________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 25 . . . . March 1, 2013


Night Sounds.

Javier Sobrino. Illustrated by Emilio Urberuaga. Translated by Elisa Amado.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2013.
32 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
ISBN 978-1-55498-332-2.

Kindergarten-grade 1 / Ages 5-6.

Review by Willow Moonbeam.

***½ /4



In the rain forest the sun hides behind the trees and daytime sounds fade away, as they do every day.

The moon comes up over the mountains and night sounds whisper into being, as they do every night.

The animals get ready to sleep.

The murmurs of the forest lull them and, little by little, they fall asleep with even noticing.

Night Sounds is a new English translation of Los Sonidos de la Noche originally published in 2012 by Ediciones Ekaré in Barcelona, Spain. This is a tender, sweet story with pleasurable repetition and a gratifying twist. The illustrations are warm and touching. An enjoyable read for both child and adult.

internal art      Although this story could be described as a typical animal story, it has its own interesting interpretation of the genre. There is a tiger and a bear and also a tapir and a rhinoceros. Two frogs hang out on a cattail witnessing the events but do not participate directly in the action. They even sit on bulrushes on the end papers. The animals are depicted as having deep emotions and feelings, reacting to the cries of the 'little one' in sympathetic ways. The animals seem like a group of babysitters, each trying to resolve the typical problems of a child who will not go to sleep.

      The story is well laid out with most of the text on the left page and a large artwork on the right page with a teaser encouraging readers to turn the page. Throughout the story, the layout changes so there are pictures on the left page as well. This is a real page-turner.

      Illustrations are watercolour, ink and crayon, and they are entirely captivating. The animals are stylized and yet totally recognizable, although it is helpful that each creature is named in the text. The 'little one' is trying to sleep in an abandoned box, a deliberate misdirection. Each attempt to help the baby to sleep is shown in just enough detail and remains in the illustrations that follow, showing that the story takes place in a single night. The composition of the pictures is completely appropriate to the story and expresses the twist in the story delightfully just before the text catches up. The tiger is especially engaging with a look that says, 'I can solve this problem, easy.'

      I like that the words are not in a typical font although I would have preferred to have capital and small letters rather than block letters throughout. Having the crying (wuaaah) always in red emphasizes that this is what pushes the story leading to all of the actions.

      This gentle story is a pleasure to read. The illustrations complement and complete the story. Make sure that you leave time to look at them in detail as you read.

Highly Recommended.

Willow Moonbeam is a librarian and college math professor living in Toronto, ON, with an interest in knitting, astrology and learning new things.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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