Natalia Padilla’s Good Night is a picture book that aims to teach young children how to master English pronunciation as well as to inspire in them a love of both the activities of daily living in general and music in particular.
The story follows a cheery young girl named Mary as she first drifts off to sleep and then dreams of climbing up the clouds. The next morning, Mary tells her parents about her dreams and they suggest that she travels to the city of Grady to meet a lady called Lily who hails from Philly. The story then takes a surprising turn, as the narrative seems to be taken over by a lady (not Lily from Philly) playing a piano who explains the different keys that can be used. The music and lyrics to a short song by Padilla are included at this point so that children can sing and play along.
After the musical interlude, Mary resumes the story (albeit this time in the first person) and explains that she has fanboys, which turn out to be the seven coordinating conjunctions: “are,” “for,” “and,” “not,” “but,” “or” and “so.” She explains that these fanboys can be used to join the elements of a sentence together, and she also provide an example of how a comma can be used. Mary then talks about visiting friends and the importance of getting everything ready before bedtime. After a busy day, she again drifts off for a good night’s sleep, and the closing pages of the book show some of the fun she has outdoors the next day.
Good Night should probably be described as a series of short vignettes or episodes that Padilla hopes will serve as teaching moments, rather than as a single coherent story. The book initially seems like it will follow a traditional picture book format, but that changes from the point Mary wakes up on the first morning and the narrative branches off in various surprising directions. The book is predominantly written in rhyming sentences, although there is not a consistent rhyme scheme throughout. Some of the rhymes are fun and work well for young readers, while others are unfortunately less convincing, with the vocabulary choices not really being suitable for the target age range. In addition, the grammar and capitalization of the story require further work.
Padilla has also illustrated Good Night and her bright, colorful illustrations really enhance the story, giving the book a decidedly positive and upbeat feel. Many of the captured scenes include a nice amount of detail for young readers to consider, and the vibrant colors should draw and maintain their attention. Padilla’s skill as an illustrator is particularly impressive given that she is only twelve years old.
Although it could still use some work, Good Night is a good attempt to convey how the adventures of youngsters, whether real or dreamed, can involve both the mundane and the extraordinary.
|Page Count||28 pages|
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