Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora

I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora
Nancy Paulsen Books

Rating: 5 stars

Thousands of miles away from most of the readers of Rachel Isadora's new book in a small African village, parents are putting their children to sleep.

Including Lala, the main character in this book who, like many American children, wants to procrastinate on her way to bed. Rather than ask for a glass of water or another bedtime story, Lala wants to tell all the animals and things around her "good night."

"I want to say good night to the cat," Lala says.

"I want to say good night to the goat," Lala says.

"I want to say good night to the rock," Lala says. (This one made me smile--it would exasperate me if it was my own child.)

Each "good night" has a corresponding two-page, gorgeous illustration of the African village, cast in the warm colors of sunset, thousands of miles away from the reader. Thanks to the magic of a good book, the reader is transported to that village as Lala "good-nights" her way to bed.


"Now!" her mother says.

Through one wordless two-page spread, we see Lala go inside, wash up, and get into bed. She has a book in her hand and, as she reads it, she whispers, "Good Night, Moon!"

You guessed it: It is the same book that most American children own or at least read. I love that last image--someone thousands of miles away reading the very same book the reader has read her/himself.

This book provides a perfect example of how to give a new twist to something that's done many times before. You've seen this before. You've read this type of book before. The type of book that closes out the day in a series of good-nights. But Isadora puts a great twist on this already-done story by placing her story in an unfamiliar setting, and then placing a familiar book in the hands of Lala.

It works beautifully.

My children and I are not strangers to Rachel Isadora. Her stories and pictures have filled my children's first years as readers. We only own one, but it is in Kiefer's bedroom, not downstairs on the children's library shelf--Nick Plays Baseball. Read my review of that book plus another one that Lorelei loved as a little girl, Lili at Ballet HERE.

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