cover image Night Animals

Night Animals

Gianna Marino. Viking, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-451-46954-0

Scary creatures who are themselves cowardly are always good for giggles. In Marino’s sweet-tempered nocturnal comedy, large, scary animals flee from the threat of still larger and scarier animals. Marino (Following Papa’s Song) paints her detailed animal portraits on black backgrounds, paying fine attention to composition and the textures of fur. A skunk asks a possum hiding in a hollow tree stump what he’s doing. “Shhhhhh!! I’m hiding,” says Possum. “What are we hiding from?” asks Skunk, now just a set of bright eyes in the dark of the stump. “Night animals!” replies Possum. In search of a less crowded space, they venture forth: “Help me!” says a wolf, who thinks he’s being followed by a bear. They’re all scared, big and small, and Marino ramps up the excitement until the animals encounter the scariest creature of all (hint: it lives in a tent). Bonus visual subplots involves Skunk’s stench and Possum’s tendency to... play possum. The spreads are polished, the story moves fast, and the laughs keep coming. Ages 3–5. Agent: Deborah Warren, East West Literary Agency. (July)