cover image When Nighttime Comes Near

When Nighttime Comes Near

Judy Pedersen. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-88259-5

This soothing and lyrical bedtime book consciously invokes the spirit of Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon. Hushed prose charts the activities that signal the close of day: neighbors turn on porch lights and bring in lawn chairs; a boy and his cat return to a house that ""feels like a warm blanket and smells like apple juice."" As the boy prepares for bed, says goodnight to his parents and his pet, and drifts off to sleep, the pages gradually darken, from color-saturated light to a quiet twilight palette. Readers will float on a cascade of poetic images (""You can see the sun slide behind the hills and the stars shimmer like clean pennies""). Visually, Pedersen's (Gather Up, Gather In) style borders on folk art, but with more overtly childlike elements--strong lines and vigorous brushwork give the paintings texture and depth. She periodically tips her hat to Brown, as in a simple yet stirring double-page spread of the night sky, paired with the words ""Good night sun. Hello moon."" An homage to a beloved classic, and a thoughtful interpretation of a familiar theme. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)