Night Lunch

Well, someone's got to feed the city's nocturnal animals, and fortunately, Owl is up to the task. From the great minds of illustrator Dena Seiferling (King Mouse; Bear Wants to Sing) and author Eric Fan (It Fell from the Sky; Lizzy and the Cloud)--this time working independently of his brothers--comes Night Lunch, an inspired inversion of the sleep-pushing picture book that traditionally ends in soporific darkness. Night Lunch does indeed capture the spooky-gauzy enchantment of the wee hours, but readers may leave the book less inclined to shut their eyes than to head to the kitchen.

Night Lunch begins "Clip clop, a midnight moon./ The night lunch cart rolls in." The horse-drawn cart stops in what looks like an early-20th-century town center unpopulated by a single human. The aroma of coffee emanating from the cart stirs the senses of various animals. Following the ding of the "night lunch bell," the critters enter the Night Owl--its interior has aspects of both an American diner and a European dining car--and enjoy Owl's customized fare: "Hoot hoot, mince pie for Fox./ Badger wants a sandwich," and so on.

Readers' own senses will be stirred by Seiferling's bewitching digital art, her sepia palette dusted with illumination from streetlamps, a chandelier and other glowy light sources. Night Lunch's showstopper captures the moment when, just before it's time for the cart to move on, a hardworking but penniless mouse gets a surprise the likes of which the pizza rat could only dream. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

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