cover image Silver at Night

Silver at Night

Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-517-59426-1

Massimino, toiling in the old country, marvels at the landlord's hilltop mansion, ""perched like a proud, fat cat guarding all that it had caught."" Even the sun and moon seem to belong to the landlord. Yearning for property of his own, Massimino leaves his village and his one love, Perina, who predicts that he will someday be a rich man, with ""gold in the morning and silver at night."" He sails across the ocean to ``a new country,'' then boards a train for ""a village nestled in the arms of a great mountain."" There he mines coal by day and counts his silver coins by night-and misses Perina. First-time author Bartoletti throngs the simple story in an avalanche of fulsome imagery. Ray's (Greyling) illustrations combine a comforting palette and soft, draping forms with tilted perspectives-evoking the mixed moods of alienation and home, dazzling prospects and back-breaking work. His images of the moon and sun and other sources of light soften the text, preparing the reader for Massimino's realization that, reunited with Perina, he is ``rich indeed.'' Ages 5-9. (Oct.)