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Reviews for The House in the Night
Starred review: Kirkus, April 1, 2008
Inspired by a traditional poem from The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, Swanson's cumulative tale begins, "Here is the key to the house." Readers are welcomed inside the house, where they find a light, a bed within the light, a book on that bed and a bird inside that book. The book opens to reveal a bird that sings a song about the dark, and within that song are the moon and the sun shining on the moon's face. And then, from deep in the night, the poem begins to climb back out of itself: "Sun in the moon, /moon in dark/dark in the song,/song in the bird," and so forth, finally arriving back to "the house in the night" which is indeed, a "home full of light." Krommes's breathtaking scratchboard illustrations, in black and white with accents of yellow and gold, embody and enhance the text's message that light and dark, like comfort and mystery, are not mutually exclusive, but integral parts of each other. (Picture book, 3-7)
Starred review: Booklist, April 15, 2008
A young girl is given a golden key to a house. "In the house/burns a light,/In that light/rests a bed. On that bed/waits a book." And so continues this simple text, which describes sometimes fantastical pleasures as a bird from the book spirits the child through the starry sky to a wise-faced moon. The cumulative tale is a familiar picture-book conceit; the difference in success comes from the artwork. Here the art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes' illustrations expand on Swanson's reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, "This is the key of the kingdom") to create a world as cozy inside a house as it is majestic outside. The two-page spread depicting rolling meadows beyond home, dotted with trees, houses, barns, and road meeting the inky sky, is mesmerizing. The use of gold is especially effective, coloring the stars and a knowing moon, all surrounded with black-and-white halos. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children.
Starred review: School Library Journal, April 2008
Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed..." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song...all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.
Jane Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
Starred review: Publishers Weekly, May 12, 2008
Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter--a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed./On that bed waits a book." That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep ("dark in the song, song in the bird,/bird in the book, book on the bed"). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3--6.