cover image Stormy Night

Stormy Night

Michele LeMieux. Kids Can Press, $15.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-1-55074-692-1

Lightning bolts and existential dilemmas keep a girl awake in this unusual volume, which resembles a compact, thick sketchbook filled with line drawings. The tidy, surreal imagery is strictly black-on-white and recalls the likes of Dali and De Chirico as often as the looser, more accessible line of de Saint-Exup ry. Brief sentences (""Is there only one of me in the world?"") accompany minimalist pictures of the speaker sitting in bed or exchanging concerned glances with her dog, providing launching points for a series of thematic questions (""Sometimes I feel like I don't fit in my body!/ Imagine if we could switch bodies...""). Figures from the girl's imagination convey uncertainty laced with dry humor. A face appears in the center of a labyrinth alongside a plaintive ""Sometimes I feel completely lost!"" Wordless spreads dramatize the silences between epiphanies. Sometimes, extravagantly blank white pages bring the shock of utter emptiness, while contrasting ink-wash spreads show the girl's small house in a rainy landscape of gray hills and wind-lashed poplar trees. The storm and the anxieties last all night (""Will I know when it's time to die? Will it hurt?""), but with sunrise comes optimism. Lemieux's (What's That Noise?) evocative images and statements work singly, but together they bear cumulative weight and offer reassurance that such questions are universal. Ages 8-up. (Oct.)