My middle child loved this book so much that he took off with it after we finished reading it and I still don’t know where it is, lol.
Landis Blair’s first picture book is the story of Watson, whose fears of the creatures in his closet and under his bed prevent him from feeling sleepy. Watson soon discovers a light under his covers, and crawls beneath to find a tent spangled with stars from the night sky. This sets him on a voyage through a fantastic nocturnal landscape where he learns that maybe strange creatures aren’t so scary, and that having lots of adventures makes a body very sleepy indeed.
This is a perfect book for helping kids get ready for sleep! The little insets with “Watson wasn’t sleepy yet so” (and I have to paraphrase because my kid ran off with the book) feature pictures of Watson getting progressively sleepier, and made me want to yawn as my body involuntarily relaxed with Watson’s. It’s a deeply clever psychological technique that’s perfect for soothing children (and their tired adults) to sleep.
The art is delightfully tenebrous, with clean lines and a style hearkening back to classic author-illustrators such as Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola. Mr Blair’s palette is cooler than those authors’, with blues predominant and pale yellows and white used as highlights, in keeping with the subject matter.
But enough of my opinion. What did Joseph, one of my reluctant readers, think of it? I’ll preface the rest with the acknowledgment that this is a child who loves outer space, so anything to do with stars is absolutely going to hook him. He read the entire book aloud to me, only stumbling on a few words as he’s nine years old and academically average. At the end, he quickly recapped the whole thing, just in case I hadn’t been paying attention. When I asked him how many stars we should give the book, he declared, “All the stars!”
My response is a little more tempered, of course, but that was absolutely one of the most enthusiastic responses I’ve ever gotten to a book from my middle child. Highly recommended for parents looking for a lulling bedtime story, and for children who love reading about the night sky.
The Night Tent by Landis Blair was published today April 18 2023 by Margaret Ferguson Books and is available from all good booksellers, including