Tuesday, October 24, 2023

review from PW

 Night Song

Mk Smith Despres, illus. by Hyewon Yum.

In this lyrically told be-yourself story, a

frog named Bernardo longs to join the

birds whose dawn song inspires the sun,

which in turn "gently unfolded the flowers,

dried the night-damp stones, and leaned

across the backs of the leaves to dance across

the forest floor." The pleasure that other

creatures take in this beauty ("The fishes

in the pond swam in the song, the drag-

onflies hummed along") spur Bernardo's

desire to sing like the birds. "I'd like to do

that.... I'd like to make the whole woods


happy," he thinks. But attempts to

become more avian-adorning himself in

colorful leaves, ascending a tree--are met

with stern looks. The frog's perspective

doesn't shift until a small friend reminds

Bernardo of the role he plays in another

musical drama: the dusk song that puts

the woods to sleep. Assured lines by

debut creator Smith Despres convey the

wonder of change brought by the day':

rhythms, while limpid colored pencil,

watercolor, and ink spreads by Yum (Luli

and the Language of Tea) deliver giggles and

render subtly changing light and color in

this hymn to contemplating one's 

Review from Kirkus


Author: Mk Smith Despres
Illustrator: Hyewon Yum

Review Issue Date: November 15, 2023
Online Publish Date: October 21, 2023
Publisher:Enchanted Lion Books
Pages: 52
Price ( Hardcover ): $18.95
Publication Date: January 9, 2024
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 9781592703944
Section: Children's

Despite great effort, Bernardo the frog just can’t find a place in the morning chorus.

Bernardo knows his song sounds “like wood and nighttime and things inside of other things.” But he loves the way the birds sing to the sun to unfold the flowers and send leaves “to dance across the forest floor.” He finds it so lovely that he tries to join in by donning a silly bird disguise made of leaves and berries. Alas, he looks ridiculous to the creatures around the pond; nor do they appreciate his efforts to climb a tree and then dance awkwardly across flower tops. By the time he gives up, the sun has traveled across the sky, and he feels too discouraged to listen to the crickets, the blackbirds, and the other frogs in their evening chorus—until, that is, he hears a snail marvel at “the song that lulls the woods to sleep.” Using a mix of watercolor, colored pencil, and ink, Yum illustrates Despres’ lilting, sonorous text with idyllic scenes of songbirds and waterfowl, butterflies and dragonflies, amid verdant tufts of greenery and sprays of flowers. As the day passes and the tonal palette dims subtly from bright day to a cool blue star-flecked night, one last view leaves the small frog with eyes closed in blissful appreciation.

Poetic and peaceful: a natural for bedtime reading. (Picture book. 4-6)