Night Animals


Written and Illustrated by Gianna Marino

Viking, 2015

Hey Possum, what are you doing in there?

The plot in a nutshell:  Animals hide from other night animals.

Possum tells Skunk that he is hiding from night animals and Skunk joins him. When their tree starts to feel too small, they strike out in search of a better place to hide and meet a wolf, running away from something following him. The something turns out to be a bear, who warns them that something huge is on its way. The four panicked animals start to run, but a bat from above tells them to stop and asks why they’re afraid. When they tell him that they fear night animals, the bat points out that they are all night animals. Suddenly, a flashlight from a nearby tent illuminates all the animals and the campers and animals scatter in different directions.


The concept of supposedly frightening things being afraid of other supposedly frightening things is not strictly a new idea, but it’s given a fresh coat of fun in this clever book from author/illustrator Gianna Marino. It’s easy for kids to imagine that any animals who roam around at night are up to no good, so here we see Possum experiencing that same fear, even though he’s actually a nocturnal animal himself. The gouache and ink illustrations on mostly black background manage to keep the tone light and comic. When wolf joins the crowd, we see Skunk let loose a little spray and Possum plays dead for most of the subsequent pages. And the punch line that all these frightened animals are terrifying to the nearby campers is just a reminder that even those who are scary to others can be scared themselves. The inside cover even features some bonus facts about the featured animals. This could be a good book for dealing with fear of the dark or the unknown.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that you should take a moment to think about something that scares you, to consider whether you really need to be scared at all.


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