Apr 1, 2013

The House in the Night

by Susan Marie Swanson
illustrated by Beth Krommes

Wonderful kid's book with vivid black-and-white illustrations that look like they were done as scratchboard or woodcuts, highlighted with areas of yellow color that emphasize things mentioned in the text. The storyline shows a girl coming home with her family at the end of the day, getting ready for bed, and reading a book with a bird in it. The bird flies out of the pages and she goes on the bird's back for a little adventure in the nighttime sky. Then the book traces its steps back through the window into the bedroom, shows mom tucking the now-sleeping child in, with the phrases repeating themselves in reverse even as the pictures show slightly different events. Personally I don't care for the illustrations, the people's faces are very flat, the animals' heads are oddly shaped ovals that look strange to me. But the complexity of the environment in the pictures are very well done and make this book stand out. All the illustrations, whether showing the interior of the house or the wide landscape outside, are full of little details, figures, objects of daily life and so on. The patterns of different clothing. The shapes of various trees in a landscape. The forms of flowers covering a hillside. My daughter loves pointing out all sorts of items she recognizes: socks, book, a cat, little cars on the road, etc. Every time we read the book there's something new she discovers. This book won a Caldecott Medal in 2009.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 36 pages, 2008


  1. I can see why that won the Caldecott Medal - it looks gorgeous!

  2. Caldecott Medal's the one for art, yeah? I do love a woodcut. We had this especially wonderful book about Santa Claus when I was a little girl that had woodcut illustrations, and it's made me love them forever.

  3. Yes, Caldecott is for illustrations. I love woodcut styles too. They're so different and rich in texture.

  4. It is a gorgeous book but it's too much for Elle at this point. I don't think the illustrations are catching her eye at this point and she just wants to move on to the next book. I do think as she gets older (and more patient) this will be a great one to pour over. And yes--the shapes of the animals' heads are very peculiar!

  5. Trish- there's lots of kid books I really love but my daughter has no interest in yet. I keep hoping we'll get back to them!


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