cover image Flashlight Night

Flashlight Night

Matt Forrest Esenwine, illus. by Fred Koehler. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62979-493-8

Three children get ready to spend the night in a tree house with a blanket roll and a stack of books. An older boy with brown skin carries a flashlight that slices through the darkness, “past old post and rail/ along a long-forgotten trail.” In scribble-textured pencil drawings, Koehler (This Book Is Not About Dragons) pictures scenes of make-believe unfolding within the flashlight’s beam. The boy and his companions—a girl his age and a younger boy in footie pajamas, both white—explore a tomb, battle a threatening pirate aboard his ship, then vanquish a giant squid. In the darkness beyond the flashlight’s glare, readers can see the real landscape that provides the settings for the fantasy play: the tomb is under the backyard deck, and the pirate ship is in the pool. The final page reveals another source of the group’s swashbuckling adventures: the books the three are reading together. Newcomer Esenwine’s balladic verse and Koehler’s sturdily drafted pencil drawings don’t just lobby for children to read—they show how readers play. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Sept.)