Asher Syed for Readers’ Favorite
Night Critters Play, written by Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and illustrated by Pamela B. Christiansen, is a children’s picture book that showcases a menagerie of animals and insects and how they emerge when the sun has finally set.
Written in a lyrical omniscient sing-song narrative, all manner of life after dark is summoned with the invitation of the owl proclaiming, “Hoo, hoo, friends, come out now and watch us fly.” From here, we are introduced to crickets wanting to play in the thickets, hungry hedgehogs and porcupines, and the bark of a crocodile that signals night play is over, among many other actively nocturnal critters.
All of this is shown in vibrant full color with art from the hand of Christiansen with smooth, contemporary monotyping and a matrix that fills the page. I don’t even know where to begin with how exceptionally gorgeous Night Critters Play is. The first thing that grabs you is the illustrations. Oh my goodness, those illustrations! The stunning jewel tones with an abstract representation of animals in the night put Pamela B. Christiansen at the forefront as an artist. I am rarely at a loss for words, but these are breathtaking.
Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie’s words run in perfect tandem, writing in an engaging narrative that immediately pulls both children and adults into a night in West Africa, a space he once inhabited himself. The pairing of Kwami Nyamidie and Christiansen is a true dream team, and I would give this book a whole bucket of stars if I could.