June 21, 2019

In the Sky at Nighttime

Written by Laura Deal 
Illustrated by Tamara Campeau
Inhabit Media
28 pp.
Ages 3-6
May 2019

While getting a child to sleep with familiar imagery is not unusual, it is when it embraces the northern environs of the Arctic and culture of its indigenous people.

In the Sky at Nighttime is a northern bedtime story. It's late and it's dark, and outside there is the crunch of winter snow and the cold crisp air. There are northern lights "painting bright colours across the endless sky" and a hunter on snowmobile returning home. Far above the snow-covered buildings and streets, a raven roosts, calling to others. But deep within a house illuminated in the darkness, there is an intimacy as a "mother's delicate song to her child rises like a gentle breeze."
From In the Sky at Nighttime, illus. by Tamara Campeau, text by Laura Deal
Nunavummiuq Laura Deal's text is very simple, usually with two lines per double-spread, often starting with "In the sky at nighttime." It takes us from outside in, leading from the expansive outdoors of both rural and urban landscapes, then drawn into the world of a mother and child. It sees the day ending and the outlook for a new day.
At peace for the day ahead
and the one we leave behind.
Quebec's Tamara Campeau brings the chill of the text to the book's landscapes through her snow-covered homes and streets, her people bundled in hooded parkas, and red-nosed and -cheeked children. The snow glistens as it provides still insulation but also as it sparkles with the stars and luminous northern lights in the darkened sky.
From In the Sky at Nighttime, illus. by Tamara Campeau, text by Laura Deal
I've just updated my Read a Book of Bedtime booklist to include Laura Deal and Tamara Campeau's splendid bedtime picture book In the Sky at Nighttime. Children in northern areas will be tickled with the book's familiarity and homeyness of people and place, while those in other climes will learn bedtime in the far north can be as warm and as cozy as a mother's embrace amidst shelter from the cold.

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