Before Morning

Joyce Sidman, illus. by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-547-97917-5
In a book-length poem, Newbery Honor recipient Sidman (Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night) expresses a heartfelt wish for a blizzard so big that it brings everything to a halt; Caldecott Medalist Krommes (The House in the Night) imagines a child for whom a snow day matters more than most. The child’s mother is an airline pilot, and the first spreads show the girl and her father preparing to say good-bye to her. In this context, Sidman’s words (“Let the sky fill with flurry and flight”) take on a different meaning; the child clearly hopes that, just this once, her mother might stay. As the snow starts (“Let the air turn to feathers”), the mother sets off for the airport, but when she realizes no flights are leaving (“Let urgent plans founder” accompanies huddling groups of stranded airport travelers), she turns back. Krommes’s sturdy, rounded figures and quiltlike compositions convey the family’s joy as the mother returns. The story’s parallel but separate threads—the innocent images of the poem, the cheery reassurance of the illustrations, and the tension of the family’s wait—give this collaboration significant emotional depth. Ages 4–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 10/04/2016
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