Before Morning

Not only am I making sure November does not end without my taking note of picture book month, I am invoking my oldest child personality and telling you how to read my newest treasure in this genre.

Having fallen in love with the author/illustrator team of Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes in Swirl by Swirl, I didn’t even need to see the great reviews to know I had to have their newest book, Before Morning. I bought it for myself, but as you can see, I’m willing to share.

The illustrations by themselves tell a story. The poem, that Joyce calls an invocation in her author’s note, also has meaning when taken alone. I can only think to describe what happens to the combination in terms of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. The peanut butter layer is tasty, the chocolate layer is luscious, but the combination is exquisite.  That’s where my advice comes in.

I recommend a first read of the illustrations with close attention to the longing of the child for the mom to stay home. (The child could be boy or girl by the way the paintings are done. I took it to be a girl because I relate to that, but I think a boy reader might do the opposite.) The painting of the girl hiding the pilot’s hat and the opened Amelia Earhart biography gives a clue about her mother’s job and why she might be leaving as night falls. Follow the visual clues for emotions of the characters from the beginning to the end. The second time through add the story invocation. Exquisite!

Feel free to do as my sisters often did and ignore my suggestion, but you can see that I tried it out with stellar results.

It’s no wonder that Before Morning made the Kirkus List of Best Picture Books of 2016. It made mine, too. The cover lists Joyce Sidman as a former Newbery Honor winner and Beth Krommes as a former Caldecott medalist. I’m predicting that Before Morning will join their other books on awards shelves as the 2016 honors begin to come in.