cover image Night Sounds

Night Sounds

Javier Sobrino, trans. from the Spanish by Elisa Amado, illus. by Emilio Urberuaga. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $16.95 (36p) ISBN 978-1-55498-332-2

The animals in the rain forest desperately want to get some sleep, but there’s a baby... something in a banana crate that just won’t be soothed, even though its every request (for a blanket, water, snack, doll, etc.) is promptly fulfilled. Finally, Tiger fetches the baby’s mother (who was visiting her own parents), and the baby is revealed to be a very cute elephant—one who also has sound advice for some nearby, similarly vexed human babies. Although the narration is bumpy and literal (and the typeface isn’t all that friendly to older eyes), Spanish author Sobrino provides plenty of opportunities for loud baby wailing (“WUAAAAH WUAAAAH WUAAAAH”) and creative interpretations of the animals’ voices. But the real draw is Urberuaga’s (Manolito Four-Eyes) funny and endearing portrayal of a tight-knit but frustrated community. Working in swift strokes of ink and rich washes of watercolor and crayon, he brings a sense of immediacy to the single-plane action and gives each character a distinctive personality—even the tiny, silent frogs perched on cattail overhanging the elephant’s crate display a repertoire’s worth of expressions. Ages 3–6. (Apr.)