Oakes’ (The Black Coats, 2019, etc.) Christian picture book illustrates God’s diurnal and nocturnal creations.

Little Niko awakes in the middle of the night with the realization that he left his toy train in the woods near his house. He hurriedly dons his coat and boots and runs out into the night to retrieve his favorite toy. Along the way, he notes the differences in his surroundings from when he was playing in the woods the previous morning. Instead of singing goldfinches (“bay-bee”) and drilling woodpeckers (“thump-thump-thump”), there’s a barn owl calling (“hoot-hoot”). Where bees were buzzing, fireflies dance. As Niko passes through the night, he knows that even in the dark, God watches over him. He reaches the end of the woods and finds his prized train on a fence post and, rejoicing, returns home to go back to bed. This charming, simple tale is punctuated with vibrant paint-and-collage illustrations by debut illustrator Chan. Though the narrative mentions God and the author unveils in the afterword that she was inspired by several specific parables from the Bible, the Christian themes aren’t heavy-handed. Oakes ably employs color words and onomatopoeia to engage young audiences.

Engages both the eye and ear as it instills a sense of wonder.

What do you think?

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