November 21, 2022

Night Runners

Written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério
Groundwood Books
52 pp.
Ages 3-6
October 2022

Who needs words when art can say so much? Geraldo Valério is one of our most accomplished wordless picture book author-illustrators, telling rich stories in the natural world with a luxuriance of colour and shape and teeming with interaction that supersedes words. Night Runners is his newest.
From Night Runners by Geraldo Valério
In Night Runners, a stag–with a messenger bag–bounds across a field into a coniferous forest, lured by a shining circlet of stars in the sky. There are many downed trees and just as the stag turns to check out the possibility of wolves, he stumbles on a fallen tree and injures its leg. As the tearful deer lays there, waiting for the wolves to come and slay it, something amazing happens. The wolves do arrive, but they encircle the deer, and bring it water and foraged food, and even wrap the wound with leaves. 
From Night Runners by Geraldo Valério
Together they follow the beacon of stars to a gathering of animals around a fire. All animals are represented, from moose and beaver, dragonfly and rooster, snake and skunk, and they all welcome the wolves and stag to their company. But when the stag opens his bag, the gathering becomes a true party of song and dance, and the circle of stars becomes a sky filled with brilliant stellar orbs.

Geraldo Valério's message of finding unexpected friends, even among those most feared, is a compelling one, especially for our times. The deer expects the worst when faced with a potential enemy but instead finds compassion and companionship. And together they discover something even more powerful and add to it with their presence.
From Night Runners by Geraldo Valério
Geraldo Valério's story fills the reader with hope for respect and humanity, something desperately needed nowadays. We need to know that good can happen in the midst of tragedy and Geraldo Valério makes us feel that promise for goodness and empathy. His striking artwork, rendered in acrylic paint and coloured pencil on watercolour paper, gives us that hope, with the boldness of colour and line bringing the power of his story to the eyes.  The stars that shine are for everyone and, with his diversity of animals, both domestic and not, Geraldo Valério makes sure that everyone can be part of this story.

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