Thursday 11 February 2016

Snowy Night

Snowy Night by Tilde Michels, illustrated by Reinhard Michl (Starfish Bay Children’s Books)
PB RRP $12.99
ISBN 9780994100221

Reviewed by Leigh Roswen

Snowy Night written by Tilde Michels and illustrated by Reinhard Michl is a picture book told in verse.

Peter lives in a cottage near the forest. One stormy night a rabbit, then a fox and finally a bear come knocking on his door seeking shelter. Can all these natural enemies spend a peaceful night together? And who should they fear the most? This is a tale of kindness and cooperation with a thoughtful twist at the end.

This is not simply a rhyming picture book it is a verse story with over 20 stanzas of 2-10 lines each. It would be a joy to read aloud to 4 to 8 year olds. The text is not so suited to independent reading due to the long word count and the fluency required to keep the rhythm flowing. The story is clear and the concepts not difficult, so it is an ideal text to introduce a child to poetry.

Perhaps there are times the rhyme is a bit clunky but this can be forgiven because the verse never fails to move the clever plot along. In the hands of a good reader children will not notice this at all. There are also parts when the verse is beautiful and bouncy and would be a delight to read aloud:
Meanwhile the snowflakes keep on tumbling,
The wind keeps howling, roaring, rumbling,
The strongest trees are bending, breaking,
The little house is shivering, shaking.

The drawn illustrations in this book are a standout and complement the story on every page. The soft textures of fur and cloth and the facial expressions of each character are depicted beautifully. The middle spread of Peter and all the animals asleep in the house is just gorgeous.

This is a cosy bedtime book, like a lullaby, it is meant for settling and snuggling. It also has a message about cooperation in times of need, about honesty and human responsibility.
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