Written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books; $16.95
32 pp.; ISBN-13: 978-1599900254
Review by Amy Brozio-Andrews
In Jessie Hartland's picture book Night Shift, young readers are invited into a whole world of activity that regularly takes place after they go to bed at night. While the family in the first scene finishes dessert and gets ready for bed, turning the page reveals the street sweeper making his rounds at 10 p.m. The book progresses throughout the night as the reader is introduced to window dressers, a late-night radio DJ, a security guard, newspaper printers, bridge painters, zookeepers, bakers, tugboat drivers, truckers, and more.
Each profile gives a quick view of what each of these people working the night shift does, with an accompanying gouache illustration. Hartland effectively threads the profiles together by tying each narrative into the next page's featured night shift job. For example, the truck driver is shown loading coconuts, mangoes, and cocoa pods. He's looking forward to getting on the road, until, "Whose night shift slows down the truck in the middle of the night?" Turn the page and young readers get to see what road repair crews are doing at 3:00 a.m. This clever arrangement of prose keeps the book interesting for young readers, making Night Shift more than just a laundry list of job after job. Hartland turns it into a guessing game.
The tone of the book is playful and fun. Just about every kid wonders what goes on after he goes to bed and likely suspects that all the good stuff happens after she falls asleep. Hartland's book shares that conspiratorial sort of style, letting kids vicariously tag along with a number of night shift workers with interesting jobs. Highly descriptive and appropriately informative at a young reader's level, Hartland's writing consistently brings the book back to the reader's perspective, citing the daily paper getting dropped off at your door, explaining why the nocturnal animals at the zoo may be alert during the day, pointing out that the baker's fresh donuts will be waiting for you in the morning, keeping the book realistic and relevant for young kids as much as possible.
Jessie Hartland's busy and colorful gouache artwork clearly shows the slowly lightening sky as the night goes on, culminating with everyone meeting up at the end of their shift at a 24-hour cafй, rounding out the story nicely. Despite the darkness of the overnight hours, many of the scenes are punctuated with bright colors -- hats, boats, animals, cars, etc. Adding a touch of whimsy, with a face on the baker's mixer for example, makes overnight work seem even more fun.
Night Shift effectively gives kids a sneak peek into a world they rarely get to see, pairing interesting jobs with bright and dynamic artwork, allowing a middle of the night world to come as alive as any known to kids during the day.
What's for Dinner?
The IP Bookshelf
Tales of Addiction
The IP Bookshelf
The IP Bookshelf
All original content © 2002 - 2013 Imperfect Parent®. Imperfect Parent and Mominatrix are registered trademarks.
The views, opinions and information expressed in articles and blog posts published on imperfectparent.com and all subdomains are those of the authors alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of The Imperfect Parent or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of any entity of, or affiliated with, Imperfect Parent. The Imperfect Parent is designed for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical, health, legal, or financial advice from a professional.
Reproduction of material from any of Imperfect Parent's pages without written permission is strictly prohibited.