Naamah and the Ark at Night

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, illus. by Holly Meade. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4242-6
In this atmospheric picture book, Bartoletti (The Flag Maker) gives voice to a biblical figure about whom little information exists: Noah's wife, who may have been named Naamah, Bartoletti explains in an author's note. She imagines the soothing effect of song during a long, dark night on the ark, as Naamah sings to her fellow passengers, both human and animal. Inspired by the Arabic poetic form of the ghazal (which Bartoletti also discusses at book's end), she structures a calming lullaby for the ark's inhabitants and readers alike: "Over the ark, song flows at night./ Two by two, eyes close at night./ Two by two, wings furl at night./ Two by two, tails curl at night." Meade's (If I Never Forever Endeavor) watercolor collages fill the large-format pages with all manner of animals in various states of repose. On several spreads, the refrain "Naamah sings all through the night" is paired with gray-black figures silhouetted against a starry night sky. It's a story of quiet confidence and comfort, during trials of truly biblical proportions, as well as a gentle bedtime book. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/27/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
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