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Once Upon a Northern Night Hardcover – July 30, 2013
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From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-In a dark room, a child lies sleeping in a cozy bed, while the unnamed narrator (parent? Mother Nature?) describes the silently majestic landscape of the northern night as it unfolds beyond the child's window. Snow covers the pine trees that "[hold] out prickly hands to catch the falling flakes," nocturnal animals visit the backyard in search of food, frost coats the windows and the pond. Arsenault's full-page and double-page mixed-media illustrations (pencil, gouache, watercolor and ink) have a 1940s feel, a perfect accompaniment to the soothing tone of Pendizwol's lyrical text with its restful "Once upon a northern night" refrain. Bursts of color highlight a branch here, some red fruits there, the green of the Northern Lights, an owl's startling yellow eyes, in an otherwise black, gray, and white palette, building to the crescendo of the last spread-the lavender and white brilliance of a snow-covered panorama with a pop of orange from a fox and some deer. This is a lovely wintry bedtime story, best for sharing one-on-one.-Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* As a little boy sleeps soundly, wrapped up warm in bed, a winter tableau slowly builds outside, beginning with a single snowflake and culminating in a dazzling white wonderland. Pendziwol (Marja’s Skis, 2007) offers a quiet poem that beautifully and lovingly tells the story of how the scene appears. Following the repeated “Once upon a northern night,” she gently evokes the snowfall, the animals creeping out of the woods to leave their tracks behind, the shimmering stars in the night sky, the glistening frozen branches of a willow tree, and the curlicues of frost framing the little boy’s windowpane. Award-winning Arsenault’s (Jane, the Fox, and Me, 2013) gorgeous, muted illustrations begin in blacks and grays but gradually expand to include bright swatches of color—green pine needles, the yellow eyes of an owl, “the fox / in his auburn coat and long black boots”—and the once-smudgy landscape takes on tantalizing depth. The lilting, whispering rhythm and tone of Pendziwol’s poem, along with the accompanying serene landscape, make this a perfect snuggly bedtime read-aloud. A sweet and lovely tale of waking up to a world magically transformed by winter. Grades K-2. --Sarah Hunter