cover image In the Half Room

In the Half Room

Carson Ellis. Candlewick, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1456-7

In rhymes and nighttime interiors that recall Goodnight Moon, Caldecott Honoree Ellis (Du Iz Tak?) imagines a space in which everything is neatly divided down the middle. Rendered in gouache on cream-colored pages, half pieces of furniture appear eclectically antique as “the light of the half moon/ shines down on the half room.” A feline is half a sleek Siamese, and half a woman in a blue dress sits reading half a book beneath a stately half lamp. After a comet blazes through the sky, “half a knock on half a door” reveals the woman’s missing component. Magically, with a delicious joining-up noise—“SHOOOOOOP”—the two fuse, and the now whole woman, freckled and red-haired, dances off into the night. The room remains behind her, cat halves battling it out before each settles down on the half rug in peace. The woman’s mid-story reunion, so profound and complete, may for some relegate the ending to distraction, but by centering the fragmentary, Ellis offers a strange, thrilling logic and invites readers to engage with a concept fundamental to children’s experience: liminality. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]