cover image The Night Worker

The Night Worker

Kate Banks. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-374-35520-3

Banks and Hallensleben, whose And If the Moon Could Talk prepared children for a calm night's sleep, stay up long past bedtime in this absorbing after-hours expos . Unlike Eileen Spinelli and Melissa Iwai's Night Shift Daddy (Children's Forecasts, May 8), in which a father works while his daughter rests, this account features a boy who accompanies his engineer father to an urban construction site: ""And while Mama sleeps, Alex and Papa head quietly into the night."" For one special evening, Alex wears a small red hard hat to match his father's big yellow one. He stands next to his father as a cement mixer and crane prepare the foundation for a city building. He even rides in a tractor to load dirt into a dump truck, before his father takes him home again. Hallensleben conveys the father and son's mutual pride and affection. Alex observes the workplace with alert brown eyes and a self-possessed half-smile; some compositions allow readers a look over Alex's head and down into the thrilling depths of a subterranean pit. The richly tactile, softly glowing paintings complement the solemn prose. Banks evokes the machinery's awesome strength and noisy engines as well as the quiet at break time: ""All motion is stopped like a held breath."" A mesmerizing description of a busy nighttime realm, illuminated by blazing headlights and framed by silent skyscrapers. Ages 2-6. (Aug.)