Nicholas Blechman's Night Light is a counting book that makes practical use of die-cut technology to increase interactivity. Night Light uses transportation-themed examples, which also makes it particularly preschool boy-friendly. Alternating page spreads contain only a number, a question, and some number of die-cut openings, against a black background. Like this:
The location of the die cut openings on the right-hand page and the color shown through each hole are hints as to what lies on the next page. In the first example, a fairly large, white circle resolves, when the page is turned, into the light on the front of a"TRAIN". The die cut opening is cleverly repurposed on the now left-hand side of the page into a tunnel opening from which the train has just emerged.
I think that preschoolers will have fun guessing what lies on the next page, as they look at the question pages (though most will be pretty tricky to guess the first time around). They'll also enjoy figuring out what Blechman has mapped to the die cut holes on the solution pages. As an adult reader, I was quite impressed with the artist's use of space and proportions to line these openings up correctly in two different pictures, one a mirror image of the other. For example, the holes that show three lights on a taxi cab end up corresponding to the mouths of three people hailing the taxi.
I also liked the professional graphic arts feel of Blechman's digitally created illustrations. He uses a slightly muted color palette, and demonstrates a pleasing use of symmetry in most of the illustrations.
Night Light offers kids several opportunities to count up to each number. First they can count the die cut holes on the black pages. Then they can count the lights on the transportation item revealed when each page is turned. And then they can look to their left and count the back sides of the die-cut holes. It's educational without feeling educational.
The last page goes back to number 1, with a cozy night-light, and shows all of the items from the other pages as toys in a boy's room (while he reads Night Light in bed). This is only misleading in that I don't see Night Light as a quiet bedtime book. I see it as a book that preschoolers will read more actively, first with parents, and later alone, as they practice identifying the vehicles, and counting up lights. It would make a great addition to any preschool classroom library, or the perfect birthday gift for a three or four year old. Recommended.
Publisher: Orchard Books (@Scholastic)
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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