cover image Night Lights

Night Lights

Susan Gal, . . Knopf, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-85862-8

Gal's cozy, spare debut plainly identifies sources of nighttime illumination as enjoyed by a curly-haired girl and her mother who live in the outskirts of a city. Together, they ride their bikes home by “streetlight,” their excited puppy jumping up to greet them under a beam of “porch light.” After roasting sausages over a backyard grill, mother and daughter celebrate the dog's birthday with a candlelit cake and play outside as fireflies surround the girl's smiling face with an orange glow. Inside their home, a collage of patterns pair with chalky designs to soporific effect. Before falling asleep under a beam of “moonlight,” the girl forms shadow puppets on the wall, and her dog barks at a band of nocturnal animals snacking on a bag of marshmallows under the glare of a “spotlight.” Gal's muted nightscapes emphasize the unique qualities of each kind of light shown, from the fireflies' eerie green glow to the comfort of a reading light. With intimate details and a tender vitality, this bedtime book may assuage some nighttime fears. Ages 3–6. (Nov.)