Picture Books about Night Jobs Make Dreamy Bedtime Stories

Lynn: Shhhh! Nestle in for two sweet bedtime stories that tell tales of people and places most children seldom see.

There is something so special about a school after everyone has gone home, and Karen Hesse captures this quiet magic perfectly in Night Job (2018). On Friday nights a school custodian takes his young son with him to his job.

“He opens the door, and the building sighs. Come it whispers to us.”

Night Job by Karen HesseAs the father works, the boy helps and plays, shooting baskets in the gym and listening to a ballgame on the radio. They share egg-salad sandwiches and in the library, the boy stretches out on the couch and reads to his father until he falls asleep to the shoosh of his father’s broom. In the early morning, they travel home through the darkness where father and son drift off together in the recliner, dreaming of time together.

G. Brian Karas is at his best as he illuminates this evocative book with tender, simple illustrations. Created with mixed media in a palette of soft, gray tones, skillfully conceived panels mix with full- and two-page spreads. Each wonderfully conveys the special bond between this hardworking father and son. This quiet treasure is one of my favorites of this year.

Kitten and the Night WatchmanDebut author John Sullivan brings firsthand expertise to his sweet story, Kitten and the Night Watchman (2018). The night watchman tells his pajama-clad family good night, then heads to his job, where he makes the rounds of a huge site filled with heavy equipment and buildings under construction. Along the way, he is joined by a small kitten the he has been seeing recently on his rounds. Together the two walk the site and share the night.

Taeeun Yoo’s lovely digital illustrations using hand-printed textures give the nighttime scenes a lovely softness, glowing with stars and the moon. But when the kitten disappears, the watchman worries and the night sounds grow scary. All ends well when the kitten reappears and the relieved watchman takes it to his children, arriving home with a luminous sunrise.

Sullivan, a night watchman himself, tells a reassuring tale that is perfect for sleepy bedtimes. As a nice bonus, children learn about this job held by many hardworking parents. In the jacket information, we learn that Sullivan adopted his own cat of 17 years after finding Beebe on one of his rounds.

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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