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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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Picture Book Review – Somewhere, Right Now

 

SOMEWHERE, RIGHT NOW

Written by Kerry Docherty

Illustrated by Suzie Mason

(Flamingo Books; $17.99, Ages 3-5) 

 

Somewhere Right Now cover

 

 

If you need a moment to slow down and appreciate life, read the picture book, Somewhere, Right Now, by debut author Kerry Docherty. In this comforting story, we see members of one family each experience strong emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness. One by one, as their feelings are recognized, they take a moment to focus. By understanding that “somewhere, right now” a great thing is happening, they move away from the negativity and, instead, their imaginations transport them to uplifting thoughts about animals in nature.

 

Somewhere Right Now int1 window
Interior spread from Somewhere, Right Now written by Kerry Docherty and illustrated by Suzie Mason, Flamingo Books ©2022.

 

The realistic illustrations by Suzie Mason capture the smattering of dark moods and offset them with plenty of joyful, kind images. Kids will learn that we all feel down sometimes and how a few words can make a huge difference. This book is very much needed in today’s fast-paced, uncertain world; it provides simple instruction on how to help control our minds while also boosting the love and positivity around us if we just choose to look for it.

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Kids Emotions – I’m Happy-Sad Today Author Lory Britain

AN ENLIGHTENING GUEST POST
ABOUT KIDS AND MOODS
WITH LORY BRITAIN, PhD

I’M HAPPY-SAD TODAY:
Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings
Written by Lory Britain, PhD
Illustrated by Matthew Rivera
(Free Spirit Publishing; $15.99, Ages 3-8)

 

cover art by Matthew Rivera from Im Happy Sad Today by Lory Britain PhD
Images from I’m Happy-Sad Today by Lory Britain © 2019. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

 

“Grandma, I am so SA-MAD!”

 Oh … why, Momo?” I asked my 8-year-old granddaughter.

“I’m SAD that my parents won’t let me do what I want today and I am so MAD at them!” she replied passionately.

Thus began my journey to explore children’s complex feelings and to write I’m Happy-Sad Today: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings. Most books and early childhood materials focus on children selecting one feeling that represents how they feel. Yet, “mixed-together” feelings are common in childhood and throughout adulthood. Exploring the emotional life of children through this lens enriches our understanding and support of children.

 

int spread by Matthew Rivera from Im Happy-Sad Today by Lory Britain
Images from I’m Happy-Sad Today by Lory Britain © 2019. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

 

All children are faced with confusing, conflicted and ambivalent feelings during situations ranging from the “every day” such as their first sleepover to confusing and devastating situations involving abuse from a known adult. Often when children are struggling with coping skills, unrecognized mixed-together emotions are present. Children’s ability to understand both their own emotions and the emotions of others improves their inner emotional life, coping skills (self-regulation) and contributes to healthy relationships with those around them.

We can help children recognize all of their feelings, validate how they are feeling, and give them the lifelong tools to accept and express these feelings in developmentally appropriate ways.  And to quote my book, I’m Happy-Sad Today,  “When I’m older, sometimes I’ll still have different feelings mixed together inside of me. And that’s okay!”

 

back cover artwork by Matthew Rivera from Im Happy-Sad Today by Lory Britain
Images from I’m Happy-Sad Today by Lory Britain © 2019. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 1-800-735-7323; www.freespirit.com. All rights reserved.

 

I’m grateful to Lory for sharing her insightful thoughts with us about children and their complex emotions. This important children’s book was just released yesterday so don’t miss your opportunity to learn more about I’m Happy-Sad Today: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings by Lory Britain and illustrated by Matthew Rivera.  Visit https://www.freespirit.com/early-childhood/im-happy-sad-today-lory-britain-matthew-rivera for invaluable resources for adults, buying options, and a glimpse inside.

This guest post was written by Lory Britain, PhD
www.lorybritain.com

 

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