Mama opened our bedroom door. "Wake up, you two," she whispered. "Let's go, so we get there on time."
Excited, the sleepy family step outside into a beautiful summer night. The world is quiet and shadowy, filled with fresh smells and amazing sights. Is this what they miss when they're asleep?
Together, they walk out of their sleeping village. What will they find in the dark landscape?
This beautiful and evocative book movingly recalls family trips and the excitement of unknown adventure, while celebrating the awe-inspiring joy of the natural world.
Narrated by one of the children, the prose shines with sensory acuity as the family leaves a village behind them with a particular location in mind. "We left the road, and the path/ climbed gently out of the valley./ A train sliced through the darkness," one verso page reads as the family overlooks a landscape of fastidiously needled trees against a star-studded sky. Navy washes overlay graphite pencil and digital illustrations, with fine-lined detail so startlingly observed that readers will feel immersed in each expansive spread. Suspense builds as sparse beams of light illuminate the darkness page by page and each spread carries the family forward through the night. A graceful, perfectly paced appreciation of nature.'
– Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
'Watercolor and graphite pencil illustrations depict an enveloping nocturnal world through saturations of indigo. Young readers' hearts will quicken, feeling embraced by night made real with breathtaking, full-bleed washes of blue that stretch across double-page spreads. This wondrous darkness gleams with reassuring lights (from lamps, windows, flashlights, glinting stars, a woozy moon) while meticulous pencil work provides specificity. A sweater's cables claim readers' attention, as do blades of grass, pine needles, fronds of fern, and a lacework of leaves in a magical night sky perforated by stars. Equally evocative sentences (in taut translations from French) appear in clear, white lettering, engaging the senses: "We threaded through the whispering forest. The earth was damp, the bark smelled comforting." Keeping pace with this family, readers wonder where they're headed and why they must start to hurry near the book's conclusion. Urgency, exhilaration, and anticipation make the walk's conclusion, a luminous, lemony daybreak, all the more powerful... A gift – here night isn't scary; the unknown is exhilarating and the ending sunny and clear.'
– Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
'The poetic, evocative text immerses readers in a nocturnal world; as the family finds its way through the woods... Painstaking line and graphite-pencil shading create depth and dimension for the various tree-lined, rocky, and mountainous terrains depicted along the way. At long last, the four gather atop a boulder to witness the break of dawn – that's where we were going. This hushed, intimate picture book creates a respite from the demands of the daytime world and pulls readers into a moment of pure wonder and peace.'
– The Horn Book Magazine, Starred Review
'From the chirping of crickets to the scent of grass to the snap of dead branches as the family walks through the forest, the text uses sensory details effectively to help listeners imagine the experience. Beautifully composed and often striking, the illustrations were drawn in pencil, painted with watercolors, and completed digitally.
This rewarding picture book, first published in France, invites children to experience a memorable encounter with the natural world.'
– Booklist, Starred Review
'I love, love, LOVE this book. It captures everything wonderful about family night time adventures, both the hushed tone and the quiet magic of earth, air and sky.'
– Jane Yolen, author of OWL MOON
'Perfectly paced page turns capture the family's trek and the wonders that await in the world after nightfall. Therein lies the joy of this picture book: Both the journey and the destination are delightful.
A palette of dusky, spectral blues envelops the family on their journey, interrupted only by pops of pale yellow from bedside lamps, porch lights, flashlights, the train's headlights and the moon. When they finally reach the summit of a mountainous slope, the expansive vista and the revelation of their ultimate objective is breathtaking.
Never hurried, this eloquent story is a beautifully measured tale not unlike one giant inhale (the journey) followed by a long, happy exhale (the closing spreads). Pick up a copy and make a night of it.'
'A deep and amazing read. It invites us all to think about adventuring out into the world in the dark, discovering how the world feels with nature around us, darkness, summer heat and wonder. The text in the book is simple, guiding us through the night's adventure, pointing out what can be seen and heard, and allowing us all to marvel at the world covered in night. The text never gets in the way of our amazement, instead encouraging us to see more and play along.
The blue, oh the blue in this book. It perfectly captures the night, lit only by the moon and the stars. Broken at times by windows or flashlight beams or passing trains, the night is allowed to take over all of the pages. Brilliant, magical and immersive..'
– Waking Brain Cells
'Though their colors are few, the book's illustrations are lively and lovely, making the world feel awake even before light breaks over the hills in this story about chasing natural wonders.'
– Foreword Reviews
'This picture book is full of vivid sensory details and atmospheric illustrations that create an experience of nature that both the young and young at heart will certainly cherish.
Dorleans (The Epic Race) hooks her audience on the first page as the parents wake two sleeping children snuggled in their beds, "Wake up, you two... Let's go, so we get there on time." Where could the family need to go so late at night? [...] The mystery is solved in a wonderfully satisfying, spectacular fashion at the book's conclusion.
In The Night Walk, Dorleans depicts the vastness that can be explored in a picture book with minimal words and a limited palette of primarily blue, black and white. Her text pairs with her beautifully detailed graphite pencil and watercolor art to emphasize the expanse of the natural world. The result is awe-inspiring.'
– Jen Forbus, Shelf Awareness
'This family outing, translated from the French, is a sensory delight, detailed with sounds and scents and tactile sensations that are enhanced by experiencing the world in, literally, a different light. Dorleans works wonders within a limited color range of rich blues and warm and bright whites, concluding with a wordless spread of yolk yellow sky and a glaring white sun almost too bright to view without blinking.'
– The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
'Though the plot and characterization are minimal, the figurative language and journey are rich with imagery and possibility.'
– Youth Services Book Review
'Perfectly paced page turns capture the family's trek and the wonders that await in the world after nightfall. Therein lies the joy of this picture book: Both the journey and the destination are delightful... Dorleans' mastery of language (with superb work from translator Polly Lawson) is especially apparent. Her sensory details are remarkable and vivid... When they finally reach the summit of a mountainous slope, the expansive vista and the revelation of their ultimate objective is breathtaking. Never hurried, this eloquent story is a beautifully measured tale not unlike one giant inhale (the journey) followed by a long, happy exhale (the closing spreads). Pick up a copy and make a night of it.'