This year’s winner of the Caldecott Medal is The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes. When I asked the librarian to help me locate it (it was misshelved), she told me she didn’t like it; its illustrations were too dark. I wasn’t sure, then, what I’d think of The House in the Night. But I enjoyed reading the story of a bedtime story, and the black, white, and gold scratchboard illustrations were appropriate for the subject.
In a very simple manner, Swanson tells the story of a little house and a book, waiting on a bed. In the book is the story of a bird flying in the night with the sun reflecting off the moon. Then the story that we are reading steps back out again and we look at the house in the night, with the little girl going to bed.
While the story is simple and has few words, the illustrations are detailed and intricate. I tried my hand at scratchboard when I took an art class in college: it’s hard. And yet each page is beautifully illustrated, with just a touch of gold color. I can’t explain how comforting the book was to read and examine: a perfect bedtime story that relaxes.
But I wonder about the librarian’s comment. The illustrations are black, white and gold, with black the main color. I thought they were beautiful, but the librarian’s comment might have merit. See sample pages from the book via Amazon’s Look Inside! option here.
In this day of full-color illustrated children’s books, is a three-color (mostly black) picture book too “dark”? What are children drawn to in illustration?
My son is too young to tell me what he thinks. But I’d love to know what you (or your children) thought of The House in the Night.
If you have reviewed The House in the Night on your site, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it here.