Saturday, February 2, 2013
At Night by Jonathan Bean
Rating: 4 stars
When we find a book we love, we find all the books by that author that we can get our book-crazy hands on and read them ALL! So it is with Jonathan Bean, the author of the new and wonderful Building Our Home. And so we had the pleasure of reading At Night.
It's a simple book, and I've found myself thinking about it and wondering of the meaning of it when I really should be focused on more important stuff like those things that are on my to-do list. But this is a quirky book full of magic; check it out and let me know what you think. Its quirkiness begins with its size: the book is small and square, setting it apart from traditionally sized picture books right away. I think I loved it from the beginning, though I really do try not to judge a book by its cover!
After her brother and sister went to bed, a girl lies in her dark room, still awake. "She lay thinking alone and couldn't close her eyes and couldn't sleep." She feels the breeze from her open window, gathers her pillow and sheet, and goes to meet the breeze on the roof of her apartment building. Creating a makeshift bed for herself, she lay there. "She thought about the wide world all around her and smiled." Breathing in the night and the moon and the breeze, she fell asleep.
(In case you're concerned, her mom followed her up and sits quietly next to her.)
As someone who suffers from but often enjoys bouts of insomnia, I can hear the quiet of the night that Bean writes about and illustrates. I appreciate the need to get out of bed and go to a different place, perhaps a calmer place. I think the girl in the book climbs up to be closer to nature, to God, to some comforting place.
The story is sweet; the illustrations are amazing. While I still think that Building Our Home is his best stuff, the illustrations are magical. I love that he says, when asked why his work often includes landscapes: They "tend to work themselves in. I don't fight it." (Read neat-o article about him here. Thank you for sending it to me, Elaine!) I love that art has a mind of its own, as if his arm is a mere layperson to a scene grander than himself.
We are huge fans of Jonathan Bean!