Quote of the Month

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

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Invitation

As a human being there is nothing more heartbreaking than seeing a child alone when a group nearby is enjoying the company of each other.  You see this more often than you would like as an educator.  With gentle suggestions on your part a connection is possible between the group and the boy or girl without a friend.

Wishing for a friend, reaching out to others, is not always easy but the results can be rewarding and last a lifetime.  Night Out (Schwartz & Wade Books, May 8, 2018) written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares takes readers on a magical journey of discovery.  Our dreams can change the course of our lives.

All alone.

A boy sits removed from the other boys at the dining room table at his boarding school.  Later, as the moon shines in his window, the light shows his wakefulness while the others are sleeping.  On a chair next to his bed, his turtle resides in its bowl. 

When the boy next looks at his turtle's bowl, his reptilian pal has vanished.  An envelope sealed with red wax is leaning against the glass of the bowl.  The words beckon to him.  His presence is needed.

Getting dressed, the boy climbs out the window next to his bed, careful to take a backpack.  Placing his helmet on his head, he rides his bike out the open gate of the school.  The path takes him to a wooden bridge crossing a ravine.  In the light of his lantern he is amazed to see his turtle but his size is increased.

Climbing on the turtle's back, they follow the light of the moon to a special cave.  Five other animals, five new friends, are overjoyed to see the child.  He is given a place of honor among them as they enjoy tea and sweet treats.  It's a celebration of friendship found.  As the next morning dawns, the boy dressed in his pajamas again is dispelling his oneness with words.

Carefully chosen phrases, eleven in number, tell an extraordinary story using the power of imagination.  If you are willing to dream, a precious reality can follow.  Daniel Miyaresspare use of text is like the invitation in the book.  It asks us to suspend reality and join in the boy's dream.  We do so willing.  Here are two phrases which follow each other.

A decision.

And a journey begins.

The first thing you want to do when you see the front of the dust jacket is to grab your snuggest, cozy blanket and curl up in your favorite chair.  You know Daniel Miyares has planned another wonderful experience for you.  It's simply perfect that it's a full moon night as shown by the use of the moon for the letter o.  As your eyes drift to the left of the opened jacket, lantern or moon light gives a glow to the opened invitation, envelope and a map.  The words

An invitation to adventure . . . 

appear above those three elements.

The book case continues with the darkened soft black background on both sides.  On the right we are given a close-up of the boy riding his bike toward us from the school, his lantern in his left hand.  The full moon is above his head.  You can feel anticipation growing. 

Daniel Miyares uses the opening and closing endpapers to begin and conclude his story.  The scene, the dining room, is the same but the seating and who is sitting where are completely different. Rendered in gouache and colored pencils on Strathmore paper each illustration is atmospheric leading us into the narrative.  With each page turn a special mood is supplied.  (All of the text is hand-lettered.)

Careful readers will see a sign of what is to come but paying close attention to the details in one of the images.  Daniel changes his perspective to draw us deeper into the boy's nighttime journey.  We are close to him as he climbs out the window but a large panoramic view shows us how far he has come from the school to the bridge.  Readers will be unable to stop from pausing at each picture.  The brush strokes, color palette, and use of light and shadow are breathtaking.

One of my many favorite pictures appears on a single page.  The walls of the sleeping room frame the large window next to the boy.  The twelve panes are placed in a pattern for large windows which open in the center like two doors.  The moon is rising huge and golden filling the entire window.  Fall leaves extended from the branches of a tree outside.  The boy is sitting on his bed looking out the window with his back to us.  The opened invitation is on the bed next to him.  Moonlight forms shadows on his bed and on the bed of the sleeping child in the bed next to him.  This picture is brimming with emotions.

I highly recommend you include this title, Night Out written and illustrated by Daniel Miyares, in your personal and professional collections.  It's beautiful in the gentle tale it tells of friendship and dreams.  For bedtime, a quiet time or a story time about nighttime adventures, this is a book you will want to read aloud.

To learn more about Daniel Miyares and his other marvelous work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  Daniel has an account on Instagram and Twitter.  At the publisher's website you can view beginning interior images.  To highlight another title, That Is My Dream!, Daniel is interviewed at The Children's Book Review.  Daniel has written an essay, A World of One's Own, at School Library Journal about the writing of this book.

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