Last Night. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Appetizer: In this wordless picturebook, after dinner, a young girl goes to sleep. Her teddy bear transforms into a real bear who leads her on an adventure through the woods.
The illustrations are highly stylized, done with linocut. I felt the illustrations were almost too stylized since the details cab be hard to make out on some of the pages. Take this page for example.
What exactly is going on here? Are there just multiple moons in the sky, throwing off the angle of the various animals' shadows? Are they rolling in the grass? Has some crazy alien struck them down? Are the girl and animals being tickled by some invisible monsters? I can't quite tell.
But the gapped weathered look certainly does make this book stand out. And since it may take the reader's mind a moment to make out the figures on each page, it encourages that reader to spend even more time observing the shapes and figures of the animals depicted.
I liked the sense of magic Last Night incorporates with a beloved inanimate doll turning into a real gentle bear. It can encourage young readers to see the everyday objects around them in a new light. That or if a child doesn't have access to this book, a reader's cousin could just inform her that bear's come to life in the night to take revenge for throwing them across the bedroom. I haven't forgotten that you told me that story, Cousin Melissa! That stuffed bear never came for me, but I still might come for you!!!!!
To Go with the Meal:
As with other wordless books, a teacher should encourage an emerging reader to narrate what they're seeing on each page, to make connections from page to page about what is happening.
In response to the book, a teacher could also encourage a student to recount their daydreams of adventures young kids would like to have with their imaginary friends.
To bring this book in for a lesson with older students, a teacher could have second-language learners summarize the story in the language the student is learning. Since there is no actual text, a student is free to make their own vocabulary choices.
Tasty Rating: !!!