cover image Flashlight


Betsy James. Alfred A. Knopf, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-679-87970-1

Taking a fresh tack on a tired theme, James (Mary Ann) arms the young heroine of this picture book against the dark with the gift of a flashlight. At night, everything at Grandpa's house looks strange and scary, but Marie's fears vanish with her grandfather's perceptive present. She quickly discovers that ""where I point the flashlight, the shadows run away,"" and turns from timid fraidy cat into ""queen of the night world, Marie!"" James zeroes in on the delights of after-dark play, from peering at oneself in the mirror and tunneling under the covers to attracting June bugs on a screen door, and her brisk prose articulates the triumph in conquering one's fear of the dark. Schuett (Somewhere in the World Right Now) skillfully juxtaposes light and dark: the pages glow as if lit from within by the reflection of Marie's flashlight, while out of range of the beam, hard outlines soften into a shadowy nighttime world. Just right for beating the bedtime blues, this book would make an ideal gift when paired with the perfect companion--a flashlight, of course. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)