cover image The Song of the Nightingale

The Song of the Nightingale

Tanya Landman, illus. by Laura Carlin. Candlewick Studio, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1768-1

In a storyteller’s cadences, Landman (Mary’s Penny) spins a tale about the origin of the nightingale’s song. “The earth was young and fresh and full of color,” she begins, but the animals are yet “dull and drab.” Carlin (King of the Sky) paints green trees and scarlet flowers and animals—insects, birds, a squirrel, a lion, a fox, a snake—in empty outlines. “So the painter decided: SOMETHING MUST BE DONE” before assembling the animals, rolling up her sleeves, and opening her paint box (“It was going to be a very long day”). Landman’s witty, fluent prose befits the painter’s skill as the creator starts by “dabbing dots on ladybugs and spots on butterflies,” and works up to larger animals: “She popped penguins into sharp suits and furnished flamingoes with features of delicate pink.” Carlin’s loopy lines and painterly creatures give her images a freshness that suits a newly created world. And when the nightingale finally appears, and all the paint is gone, one small, final miracle occurs, giving the fable an enduring feel. Ages 6–9. (Mar.)