Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In Twenty-Four Hours

Several weeks ago in the early evening on a Saturday, a male fox ran across my front lawn.  After recovering from shock and grabbing my camera, I dashed out the door to see it merrily running, as if on a familiar path, down the road in our subdivision.  The following Saturday afternoon a male fox raced across my backyard.  Later, that same day sometime a little after midnight, I was outside with Xena.  I heard something running down the street along the front property line.  In the glow of my flashlight I could see a fox.

As if pulled by an invisible thread when it reached the lot corner, it turned and came diagonally across the yard directly at Xena and me.  Loudly barking it quickly reached us.  With only the driveway separating us from the charging fox, yelling I pulled Xena through the flower garden and into the house.  I kept thinking it was going to leap.

Other than silent observations in the woods, fields or along the Lake Michigan shoreline, this is the closest encounter I've ever had with native wildlife.  It made me realize how delicate the line is between our two worlds.  In Daylight Starlight Wildlife (Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group(USA), May 19, 2015) gifted artist and author Wendell Minor takes the hands of readers leading them to marvels in the natural word no matter the time of day.

The sun shines on Earth, bringing the light and warmth of day.  Do you know these daylight visitors?

Looking out in a backyard readers are asked to identify eleven animals.  When viewing the same space during the night, eleven new creatures come into view.  With a page turn the comparison of animals seen during the day is shown with those more prevalent during the night.

Feathered hunters gliding above ground are featured; their keen eyesight searching for food.  Smaller mammals keep their young close as they nestle or wander through the tall grasses.  One even carries them upon her back.

By day a tiger swallowtail seeks nectar.  By night a luna moth looks for another of its kind.  In summer sun a young fawn hides, spots blending with the surroundings.  In winter night a predator jumps with purpose.

Critters from the same family exhibit different habits and physical characteristics depending on the hour.  The larger cats slip soundlessly through the area as the temperatures climb.  The larger canines call out to others in the chill of the dark.

Early risers will see a flash of red and an unmistakable song.  Night owls will find company in the call of their namesake.  Those with senses attuned will discover wealth in the wild.

After the initial two statements followed by questions, Wendell Minor weaves a spell with his poetic observations of the individual pairs of animals.  Descriptors allude to physical features.  The particular activity in which each is engaged is vividly portrayed in word choices.  It is obvious, regardless of the author's note at the end, Minor has been in the presence of each selected animal.  Here are two side-by-side sample passages.

By day, sharp-eyed red-tailed hawk
soars high in the sky and scans
the earth for food.

In the stillness of night,
wide-eyed barn owl silently
swoops through the sky.

The use of light and shadow, the exquisite detail and realistic depictions in Wendell Minor's paintings will have you reaching out to touch the page slowly, careful not to frighten the creature you are sure is alive.  On the matching dust jacket and book case our attention is drawn to two similar animals represented in their most comfortable surroundings.  The warmer golden tones seen during the light of day and the cooler shades identified with nighttime define not only the two sides of the front of the jacket and case but all of the illustrations.  A darker yellow provides the background for the opening endpapers.  On the closing endpapers what I would call blueprint blue is used as a canvas.  On each of them a pattern of animal tracks in a lighter shade is shown.

The first two page painting is a more panoramic view of a wild space near a home.  On the left is daylight.  On the right is starlight.  It's a truly lovely transition.

For each of the ten pairings Minor alternates between double or single page portraits.  We are brought closer to the animal as if we are viewing them at their level. Fine lines define feathers, fur, delicate wings, hard shells, and bumpy skin.  Twice in this title two horizontal pictures span two pages, one over the other.  The emotion Minor feels for his subjects shines in each image.

One of my many favorite pictures is of the barn owl at night. The wings are nearly spread from one corner to the other.  A full moon shines above on the left.  On the right in the corner the peak of a roof outlines a portion of a lighted, rounded window.  Stars twinkle above evergreen trees.  A single light shoots across the sky toward earth.  You can hear the silence only broken by the sound of crickets.

I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal shelves.  Every child and every adult will want to make themselves aware of the wonders found in Daylight Starlight Wildlife written and illustrated by Wendell Minor.  It's a stunning collection of wildlife paintings. At the close of this book a Fun Facts section explains diurnal, nocturnal and crepuscular.  Twenty-two animals are highlighted with additional information.  (I certainly hope to see a luna moth someday.)

To discover more about Wendell Minor and his other work please follow the link attached to his name.  There are many illustrations from this book on the designated page.  Enjoy the book trailer.

Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to see the other selections of bloggers participating in the 2015 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.


  1. I've been awaiting this book... the library still doesn't have it, but I've noticed they sometimes take a bit of time on the nonfiction titles. Seeing as it's Wendell Minor, I have no doubt they'll get it! Or I'll just show them your beautiful review ;)

    1. Waiting for a Wendell Minor book is like waiting for a holiday. You know it's going to be wonderful. I hope your library gets their copy soon Michele. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. I love that you had the experience at night in order to connect with this book, and make the review even more powerful, Margie. Wendell Minor is an author whose books we should all know. I went looking for an owl once with an aunt at her country home. She knew just where to walk, stop and wait. We were not disappointed with the owl who came swooping by. I won't forget it. Thanks for sharing this book, will get it for myself and for my granddaughters!

    1. Usually we only see evidence of our visitors with tracks in my gardens or in the snow. This experience with the fox did take it to a whole new level. Wendell Minor does observes things with new eyes. Thank you for sharing your owl sighting with me (us). I hope your granddaughters like this book as much as I do.