NIGHTSONG, written by Ari Berk and illustrated by Loren Long, was first published in 2012 so in today’s kidlit world is a rather old picture book. But it is soooo beautiful, I couldn’t help wanting to share it with you all and recommend it as a beautiful book for your picture book readers.
The story is about a little bat setting off into the world by itself for the first time. With mother’s wise words, ‘use your good sense’, Chiro learns to sing out bravely without fear. And, listen carefully for the echoes of the world back.
This beautiful coming-of-age story is written with sweeping, musical lyrics. Berk writes the story as if writing poetry with figurative language flooding the text. The language is packed full of alliteration, metaphors, assonance, and repetition and it makes for a lovely read-aloud. The mood created is one of excitement for the world around and power of nature.
The text is coupled with stunning illustrations that play on the drama of night-time. Focused areas of light highlight the world bat awakens to as he learns to listen as well as the light within the little bat himself. Long uses acrylic paint for texture and thick dramatic lines and graphite for those lovely moody nighttime scenes. Shadows, foreshadow danger and Chiro’s sense of fear. While light and colour adds to the sense of excitement and enlightenment felt by Chiro as he grows more confident. A sense of hope for the future of the little bat is created as he ventures further afield with growing confidence.
Alongside these important messages of self-awareness, connection to nature and growing confidence, NIGHTSONG conveys non-fiction information about bats use of echo location and how they ‘see’ when it is dark, not with their eyes, but with their other acute senses.
I wouldn’t tire of reading this book to my kids over and over. It has all the hallmarks of a true classic and I would highly recommend it!