Hannah’s Night

Komako Sakai, trans. from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano. Gecko Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-8775-7954-7
Sakai (Mad at Mommy) draws a series of portraits of Hannah, a girl of perhaps three or four who wakes while it’s still dark and finds that everyone else in the house is still asleep. What looks at first like a spooky setup (“When Hannah shook her,” Sakai writes, as Hannah kneels on her sister’s bed, “she didn’t budge. Not one little bit”) blossoms into an experiment in time spent independently as Hannah does as she likes. “So even when Hannah gave Shiro some milk and ate some cherries without asking, nobody told her off.” The artist’s smoothly drafted drawings capture with aching sweetness all the movements of a very young child—the way Hannah’s trip down the stairs is an expedition carried out step by step; the way she sits thoughtfully on her haunches to eat the cherries stolen from the refrigerator as Shiro laps milk; the way she reaches stealthily over her sleeping sister to take the older girl’s doll. By keeping her focus tight and observing Hannah closely, Sakai’s characterization feels natural, light, and true to life. Ages 4–up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/20/2014
Release date: 02/01/2014
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