I love picture books! I'm fascinated by the seemingly endless styles of illustrations, from the bright, highly contrasted books for our youngest readers, to the intricately detailed pictures that expand the stories for elementary students.
Darkly illustrated children's books especially interest me. They almost always have to do with the night, attempting to fill what can be the scariest time for children with dreamlike wonder instead.
Humphrey's Bear by Jan Wahl, illustrated by William Joyce, is one of the first "dark" books I remember sharing with my own children. Humphrey goes on a journey with his beloved teddy bear, sailing the seas. When he loses his bear, he awakes to his father holding it, and we learn that this is not the bear's first nighttime escapade.
Mary Pope Osborne's Moonhorse, illustrated by S.M. Saelig, has that same dark, dreamy quality to both the pictures and the gentle rhythm of the text. Daddy falls asleep on the porch just as his daughter is about to wish on a star--but his slumber gives her leave to hop on the Moonhorse's back and pull the moon through the sky. Constellations come to life as they fly through the night. Fans of Osborne's Magic Tree House series might be pleasantly surprised by this departure from chapter books.
And then there's Kevin Henkes' Kitten's First Full Moon, his only picture book in black-and-white. Kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk, and goes to great lengths trying to get a drink. There are lots of curves, dark solid lines, and the cutest little kitten to make the night seem not-so-scary after all.
Bright colors and intricate details make for wonderful picture books--but shades of night might lull even the most reluctant sleeper to a pleasant visit in dreamland.
What is your favorite bedtime picture book?