Monday, 7 December 2015

Once Upon a Northern Night by Jean D Pendziwol and Isabella Arsenault, Reviewed by Tamsyn Murray

First, a confession: I was persuaded to buy this gorgeous picture book by the lovely Polly Jaffé, of Jaffé and Neale bookshop in Chipping Norton. Without Polly's enthusiastic recommendation I might never have discovered Once Upon a Northern Night, and my life would have been a tiny bit poorer without it. So thank you, Polly!

Once Upon a Northern Night is a poetic, beautiful love letter to a sparkling winter's night. The words dance across each page, introducing us to a sprinkling of delightful nocturnal characters and personifying the elements. The book opens with a child tucked up in bed and leads through the night as he/she sleeps. Each spread adds to the magic: the words paint pictures just as beautifully as the illustrations do, with breathtaking descriptions and imagery that really conjures up the spirit of winter. We have softly tumbling snow, footprints to follow, all the usual residents of a snowy night, splendid and stately trees, the Aurora Borealis and of course a breath of frost. The end is lovely, perfect for bedtime (where parents might like to echo the idea that the moon gives gentle kisses and the wind whispers 'I love you.')

The illustration style is muted but no less sumptuous than brighter picture books. In fact, the subdued colours made the flashes of orange and red and green stand out even more. The illustrations evoke the delicious freshness of a snowy night, where everything feels reborn, and every detail is perfectly observed. The combination of the illustrations and text make such a delectable book - a real joy to read and one that I am sure will become an immediate Christmas tradition for us. Just magical.

Published by Walker, I think this book would appeal to older children as well as the more usual pre-school readers.



Penny Dolan said...

Sounds just beautiful!

Tamsyn Murray said...

It really is - I didn't really do it justice.

Sue Purkiss said...

I saw it in Hatchards yesterday and it did look lovely - but I'd already spent rather a lot!

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