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The House in the Night Hardcover – May 5, 2008
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*Starred Review* A young girl is given a golden key to a house. “In the house / burns a light. / In that light / rests a bed. On that bed / waits a book.” And so continues this simple text, which describes sometimes fantastical pleasures as a bird from the book spirits the child through the starry sky to a wise-faced moon. The cumulative tale is a familiar picture-book conceit; the difference in success comes from the artwork. Here, the art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes’ illustrations expand on Swanson’s reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, “This is the key of the kingdom”) to create a world as cozy inside the house as it is majestic outside. The two-page spread depicting rolling meadows beyond the home, dotted with trees, houses, barns, and road meeting the inky sky, is mesmerizing. The use of gold is especially effective, coloring the stars and a knowing moon, all surrounded with black-and-white halos. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Ilene Cooper
Top customer reviews
The illustrations are done in a scratchboard style, mostly black and white, with a few golden highlights. Though the color palette is limited, each illustration is incredibly detailed and provides a rich backdrop for the lyrical text.
You might like it: This book is great for very young children. With only a few words on each page, my 1-year-old son really enjoys this book and can sit through it easily without getting bored. I also think that the black and white illustrations would be great for newborns' developing eyesight. Children below 6 months of age often love to gaze at black and white patterns and the illustrations in this book are perfect for that.
You might not like: If you have older children who like more complicated plots or quirky characters, this might not be the book for you.
Worth having in your collection for a little something different.
Krommes illustration technique of scratchboard with intermittent color accentuating the important parts of the story lead the reader to a textured, moving realm of literature. As Swanson uses simple words to help children know order and objects, the storyline also tells the tale of a child getting ready for bed and using his/her imagination to travel outside his/her home. After going into the home, into her room, into her book, and into the world the reader is then transported back into the book, into the room, into the house, and into the world of the character.
As a former art major student and artist I can fully appreciate the time it took for the illustrations in this book to be created. Scratchboard a difficult medium to work in, and can create a great deal of movement in the final piece.
As for the text, it does do a wonderful job in reinforcing timeline, order, and organization. The naming of basic objects, and the illustrations of more to name later on your own, creates a learning opportunity for young readers. The underlying message of being able to leave your home in your imagination through books, and the ability to return to it later, just as you left it is a wonderful way to entice young readers to read more books.
It is the absolute perfect bedtime book (not too long, not to short... sing-song-y, but not annoyingly so... beautiful art and peaceful images) and it will always be on my kids' nightstand.