cover image On a Summer Night

On a Summer Night

Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Kenard Pak. Chronicle, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-79720-013-2

Alternating between descriptive lines and reiterative questions, a second-person narrative voice puts the reader at the center of this taut story set on a still summer night. A child with sleep-rumpled hair is seen upright in bed, their bedroom window open: “All at once/ you sit up straight/ and rub your eyes.// What has woken you?” Mysterious stirrings continue as the child pads to the kitchen and encounters a cat (“Who has woken her? Was it you?”). Signature-style flat graphic spreads by Pak (Leo and Lea), in a palette of dusky plum, forest green, and toasted ivory, underscore the night’s velvety darkness as the child ventures outside, unafraid. A roused dog barks, a rabbit emerges from hiding, a tree’s leaves sway, and a breath of air moves. Evocative lines from Hopkinson (Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred) ask who woke each, capturing them all at moments of quickening. Pak hints at what’s to come with small, crisp-edged intrusions of warm light that balance the book’s considerable suspense until a gentle presence finally materializes. It’s a luminous, intentionally paced work that captures a slow-moving encounter with the majestic dance of the natural world. Ages 3–5. (May)