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Picture Book Review – Every Night at Midnight

EVERY NIGHT AT MIDNIGHT

Written and illustrated by Peter Cheong

(Atheneum BYR; $18.99, Ages 4-8)

 

 

Every Night at Midnight cover sitting boy with wolf shadow.

 

 

In Every Night At Midnight, illustrator Peter Cheong’s first book as an author-illustrator, Felix the human boy turns into a wolf at midnight and runs alone through the streets. But at school, life is very different. He realizes he must hide his secret so he keeps to himself. He is fine with that until one day he stumbles on a member of his pack.

The black colored background of the digitally rendered illustrations depicts dark-haired Felix dressed in an orange sweater alone at night drawing pages and pages of wolf heads and bodies that are then taped to his bedroom walls. And that is when he turns into a wolf.

 

 

Every Night at Midnight int1 boy on bed at night drawing.
Interior spread from Every Night at Midnight written and illustrated by Peter Cheong, Atheneum BYR ©2023.

 

When the reader turns the page, they see the same dark background with a wolf in Felix’s orange sweater looking down at the neighborhood streets before embarking on his solo adventure. “My hands and feet turn into velvety paws; my face changes; and I grow a long, bushy tail.”

Cheong draws a white background as Felix enters the school where kids are playing together dressed in school uniforms—with one classmate notably dressed up as a bear. Felix stands alone watching them walk by. “The other kids used to invite me to sleepovers at their places. But since I turn into a wolf every night, I can’t.”

 

Every Night at Midnight int2 no more sleepovers boy at school.
Interior art from Every Night at Midnight written and illustrated by Peter Cheong, Atheneum BYR ©2023.

 

Felix feels it’s best to be on his own but he does wish he didn’t turn into a wolf EVERY night. Felix the wolf,  dressed in an orange sweater, stands alone looking over the roofs of the neighborhood. He’s a brave, strong wolf but the loneliness he begins to feel is expressed with Cheong’s emotionally empowered words and illustrations.

 

Every Night at Midnight int3 there is a new girl at school.
Interior art from Every Night at Midnight written and illustrated by Peter Cheong, Atheneum BYR ©2023.

 

 

One day a white-haired girl in a green sweater who has moved into the house down the street from Felix is welcomed with open arms by her new classmates. Cheong’s employing a white background when Felix feels alone and a black background when he runs through the streets needing no one by his side is a great visual for feelings. Because of his nighttime outings, Felix is the fastest kid in class, ” or at least I was.” The new girl runs right past him.

One night Felix hears an echo from his bedroom and looks down to see a white wolf (remember the new girl’s white hair?) standing on a rooftop down the street wearing a green sweater. The page turns to the black wolf and the white wolf running in the streets side by side. “This is the best night ever. We leap, we bound, we fly, Until… ” The white wolf falls.

Felix returns to school not knowing what happened to the white wolf when he sees the new girl has a cast on her arm. He signs her cast with the other classmates and shows his wolf drawings to the other kids. He gives the new girl a wolf necklace that she puts around her neck and he realizes that this is the best day ever.

This beautifully told story is about dealing with loneliness until the day comes when you find your special pack. It is a heartwarming tale to help children understand that even when they have these days or weeks if they stay brave, they will one day find others just like them.

  • Reviewed by Ronda Skernick Einbinder

 

 

Click here for a guide to using books about feelings and emotions.

 

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