CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 30. . . .April 14, 2017
The Way Home in the Night is the latest addition to Akiko Miyakoshi’s collection of literature for young children. This charming picture book is sure to please fans of Miyakoshi’s work as it remains true to the unique, illustrative style which has awarded her with such accolades as the Nissan Children’s Storybook and Picture Book Grand Prix award for The Storm, and the Japan Picture Book Award Grand Prix for The Tea Party in the Woods.
In The Way Home in the Night, readers follow a mother rabbit and her child as they walk through familiar streets in their neighbourhood in the late evening. Along the route, the young bunny witnesses the actions of neighbours as they go about everyday routines such as preparing a bookstore and restaurant for closing, chatting on the phone, hosting a party, and baking homemade pie. The young bunny’s observations of the neighbours’ activities through their lighted windows provide a realistic snapshot of daily life in a community. After meeting up with father rabbit, the family travels the remainder of the way home together where the young bunny prepares for bedtime while imagining the latest behaviours of the neighbours, including the restaurant chef taking a bath, the party coming to an end, and the pie being prepared to be served. The story concludes with the young bunny falling asleep while reflecting on the possible end-of-day journeys of an adult rabbit whose footsteps are heard walking along the roadway beneath the young bunny’s bedroom window.
Miyakoshi’s primarily black and white illustrations are beautifully sketched in charcoal, pencil and acrylic gouache. Use of colour is minimal but strategic as it is cleverly introduced to place emphasis on specific aspects of the illustrations which are central to the storyline. Miyakoshi effortlessly captures the true essence of a quiet evening walk through her exquisite depiction of shadow and glowing luminescence from the neighbourhood windows. Close attention is given to lighting contrasts in the illustrations with the introduction of subtle changes in shading to mirror slight variations in indoor light sources from televisions to overhead and tableside lamps. While the characters’ faces do not offer much in terms of emotional expression, this may be intentional to emulate the calming, tranquil qualities of the evening hours. The minimalist use of text complements the quiet nature of the illustrative content; however, the size of the text is very small and, at times, is quite difficult to read, particularly where the font is presented amidst the black and white of the illustration. The inclusion of some wordless sequences is a pleasant addition which allows readers to offer their own narrative perspectives.
The Way Home in the Night blurs lines between outdoor and indoor spaces, merging them together to create a seamless, comforting representation of everyday life. This book would make a lovely addition to a home library collection as it will likely become a preferred bedtime favourite for younger audiences.
Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON., where she is researching children’s literature.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.