Before Morning: Joyce Sidman + Beth Krommes
October 20, 2016
Book: Before Morning
Author: Joyce Sidman
Illustrator: Beth Krommes
Age Range: 3-7
Before Morning, written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beth Krommes, is simply beautiful, in words and text. It's about the power of wishes, and quiet respite that a snow day can bring. The story is told mainly through the pictures, accompanied by a spare poem from Sidman, sprinkled line by line across the book. We see a girl pause at a bakery window, dragged past by a busy parent. We see the girl at home with her parents, trying to hide her mother's pilot hat, so that her mother won't leave. We see the mother leave for work, while her husband and daughter are sleeping. And then we see it start to snow, and snow, and snow.
Here's just a hint of Sidman's text:
"Let the air turn to feathers,
the earth turn to sugar,
and all that is heavy
This was across three page spreads. You want to read it aloud, slowly. This would make a wonderful bedtime book, soothing and uplifting, and celebrating family.
Krommes' scratchboard and watercolor illustrations are rendered in a deep palette. Everything is textured and slightly abstract looking. She fills in details that tell us more about the girl and her family. The father standing in the kitchen, having clearly prepared the dinner on the table. The girl's room, full of model airplanes. A picture of the mother in uniform on a side table. And at the end, as any reader would hope and expect, we see the family stop at the bakery, and take home the cake that the girl wanted in the first place.
In the middle of the book the authors' focus turns to the snow storm. We see skies full of snowflakes and birds, over snowy town scenes. But throughout these images, we also follow the mother's journey, into the airport, and then home again. This is a book that rewards close observation, a slow reading of the text, and a slow perusal of the pictures.
Before Morning is lovely, through and through. This story that celebrates a child's love of her parent would make a perfect new baby gift. It's especially wonderful, of course, that it's the mom who is the breadwinner, and has the job that inspires and saddens the child. Before Morning belongs in libraries and on home bookshelves everywhere. I think it will work best for preschoolers, but I hope that my six-year-old appreciates it, too. Because it would make me very happy to read this to her. Highly recommended.
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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