The Night Wild

Dial. Sept. 2021. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525553786.
PreS-Gr 1–A pet dog steps out from her home, joining the creatures of the forest for a romp in the moonlight. Meeting up with a wolf, her inner “wild one” is unleashed, and she frolics until the sun comes up. Poster’s pencil illustrations are entirely in black and white, without a pop of color to be found. Through the soft drawings, she captures the illumination of the moonlight effectively, giving the animals a ghostly quality. Multiple spreads add to the cinematic storytelling. Though the animals’ cavorting makes the story seem to be magical realism, the illustrations do not provide that same element. When the wolf and dog leap off a cliff, plummeting into a body of water, the word “SPLASH!” is used, but only a few droplets of water are shown instead of a more realistic spray of water. The repeated use of “WILD” in capitalized letters also emphasizes the dog’s journey. There is an emphasis on sound words in the text, with Poster using onomatopoeia—“thump,” “hush,” and “pant”—to add to the overall mood. The poetic structure of Poster’s writing and sentences broken up across several panels add to the effect. That pacing makes this an excellent read-aloud, perhaps for a pajamas story time.
VERDICT Luminescent illustrations and dramatic storytelling turn one night of moonlit play into an exceptional story.

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