Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

In The Darkness . . .Delight

Over the decades of having canine companions, you become accustomed to taking treks at all hours of the night in every season of the year.  In the spring, you are the first to note the sound of peepers in a nearby pond.  During summer nights, you are fortunate to find moths fluttering within the beam of light cast by your flashlight.  It's easy to startle forging rabbits or wandering deer during autumn.  The night skies with their profusion of stars in the crystal air of winter are breathtaking 

Darkness reveals its secrets to curious observers.   Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth's Protector (Schwartz & Wade Books, September 15, 2020) written by Deborah Wiles with art by Daniel Miyares is based upon a blending of several true events taken from the writings of Rachel Carson.  You will find yourself easily stepping into this story, captivated by the lyrical words and atmospheric images.

It was bedtime in Rachel's cabin
in the woods,
when thunder BOOMED and
the storm roared in.

"I'm not afraid!" shouted Roger.
CRAAAAACK! the thunder answered.

Roger was hardly ready for bed acting like he was the monstrous storm.  Rachel joined him in his romping around the room.  Suddenly, the lights went out.  They were plunged into the darkest dark.  Roger still claimed to be unafraid.  This time it was not true.

After reassuring him of his safety, Rachel lighted a lantern and cuddled with him near a window so they could marvel at the storm. Roger was still not happy in the dark.  When the storm subsided, Rachel suggested they go for a walk.

Both bundled up in stormy weather gear, they set off toward the sea.  Their flashlights gave off a special glow to the woods around them.  Rachel encouraged Roger to listen, look, and learn from what he saw.  Soon they were at the shore.

Roger raced along the sand spooking birds and ghost crabs.  Shortly, Rachel whispered to him, and asked him to turn off his light and close his eyes.  When he opened them, the sea was coated in sparkling gemstone colors. This was when, looking at his feet, Roger saw another wondrous sight.  With Rachel's guidance a rescue was performed, and they returned to the cabin.  A nighttime adventure will be remembered by one little boy and many other readers, with gratitude to Earth's Protector.

Through her reading about Rachel Carson and her own love of the wonders nature holds for all of us, author Deborah Wiles again demonstrates her masterful ability to glean treasures from the past and portray them with lyrically presented truth to her readers.  This narrative is more intimate for us with the inclusion of possible dialogue between Rachel and her great-nephew and adopted son, Roger.  The descriptions of the storm, the landscape, and the sensory experience are both soothing and reverent and exciting and astonishing.  Here is another passage.

They walked past the cinnamon ferns
and reindeer moss
and the drip-drip-drip of glittery raindrops
on the tips of the shiny leaves
that were washed in moonlight.
Their flashlights bobbed cones of yellow light ahead of them.

From left to right on the open and matching dust jacket and book case readers are presented with a portrait of the misty walk toward the sea.  On the left, back, darkness nearly hides the ferns and leaves stretching from the ground.  A single firefly floats above them.  The text here reads:

As the soft dark folded itself around then,
and the sea called out to them like a lullaby,
Roger and Rachel breathed in the salty sea air . . . together.

On the front with their flashlights guiding them down the path, the affection between the two is evident.  Look how Roger leans toward Rachel and she bends to him. The expressions on their faces here, and throughout the book, mirror every emotion.  As your eyes move past them, you can see the delicate details included in this image.  Can you see the cricket, the dragonfly and the raindrops on the trees?

The opening and closing endpapers are colored in flashlight-glow yellow.  On the title page we gaze at a panoramic view of the storm clouds hanging over the cabin tucked in the woods by the sea.  The only light in the scene is from the front window in the cottage.

Each visual by artist Daniel Miyares was

rendered with ink on paper.

From the smaller pictures on the end flaps, to the dramatic double-page images, and the lovely full-page pictures (several only seen from the glow of a lantern), we share in each moment with Roger and Rachel.  The use of shadow and light in focusing our attention on specific portions of an illustration are breathtaking.

When you pause to look at the illustrations your eyes discover all the wonders Rachel and Roger do.  You see the beauty of the forest trees and ferns after the thunderstorm as they walk.  You look up as they do to see an owl resting in the hollow of a tree.  You get down low with Roger as he peers at frogs and insects pausing on blades of grass. 

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a double-page picture, a bird's eye view of Rachel and Roger as they arrive at the shore.  From left to right is a swirl of darkness with some light from the now shining moon illuminating the laurel and blueberry bushes.  The pathway and stairs are clearly visible.  On the far right, tiny figures, flashlights casting light in front of them, walk toward the sandy beach.  You want to be there with them.  You want to be a part of this grand depiction.

This book, Night Walk to the Sea: A Story About Rachel Carson, Earth's Protector written by Deborah Wiles with artwork by Daniel Miyares, is an engaging request for readers to meet Rachel and Roger and to welcome us into our majestic natural world.  Now, more than ever, we need to seek, and see the world around us, so we can assist in protecting and preserving it for the future inhabitants.  At the close of the book, Deborah Wiles speaks in a section titled:

A Note About Rachel Carson
and This Story.

She also includes a discussion about bioluminescence, selected titles written by Rachel Carson and those written about her.  Her acknowledgements are highly informative, too.  I highly recommend this title for all your collections.

To discover more about Deborah Wiles and Daniel Miyares, and their other work, please visit their websites by following the link attached to their names.  Deborah Wiles has accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  Daniel Miyares has accounts on InstagramTwitter, and YouTube.  At the Penguin Random House Education you can view interior images.  

Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to view the selections this week by participants in the 2020 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.  I believe her post will appear later this week.


  1. I am an ardent fan of Rachel Carson, having visited and taken a day class at RC Wildlife Refuge in Maine, and will of course be buying this book. It sounds like it was lovingly written and it is a clever idea to string a few stories and experiences together to make a cohesive book. The art sounds incredible, and the cover is intriguing. Congratulations on making this welcome STEM book. Rachel is still on my list of women in STEM to write an ode, for so many reasons. Margie, thanks as always for picking out so many details, words, intimations, art notes, that I might not have picked out when reading. It makes my experience better. I seriously wish I wrote books just so I could send them to you to review, lol. I’ll have to send you a song instead, ah well..... stay well all!