As school winds down during spring’s last gasp, children everywhere are looking forward to the long, lazy days of summer. But not just the days, the crepuscular hour that signals day’s end. For many, it’s the time to get outside after the heat of the day (sorry, San Francisco kids, summer is really winter, here) and play tag, catch fireflies, or explore the neighborhood with news eyes in the semi-darkness.
Yes, folks, I’m talking dusk. And this particularly engaging new book:
The sun begins to sink.
The neighborhood beckons….
I love how the neighborhood is personified, as if it’s waiting for its friends to come out and play. The text for most of the spreads that follow begins with present participles: looking, calling, searching, hoping, waiting, longing, watching, wishing, and listening. This choice indicating that some version of these activities happens every night.
It’s time to find friends; climb trees; play leapfrog, tag, or kick the can; discover frogs and worms; and catch fireflies. So many things to do before being called inside.
I absolutely adore this spread, showing children catching fireflies. I apologize for my poor photo quality. Some illustrators make the tricky job of depicting evening scenes look easy. Throughout this book, Ellen Rooney’s fabulous illustrations take us on the journey from the light-filled, long-shadowed moment of sundown to full darkness masterfully.
Lindsay Leslie’s accompanying text is just as lovely:
Wishing for firefly catchers
who love to fling their nets into the
dimming sky sprinkled with diamonds
The last spread finds the neighborhood calling out to its friends:
Run free outdoors.
Steal away into the night.
I find this lure to the great outdoors especially poignant, given that it’s currently the safest place for children to play with their friends (as long as they stay six feet apart!).
Catch and release fireflies, or make a firefly craft.
Identify the animals/insects that are crepuscular in this book. Cut up old magazines that contain their images and make a crepuscular animal collage. See if you can spot the crepuscular animals living in your neighborhood. Yes, I’ve used crepuscular four times now. Guaranteed that kids will love learning this word!
Write a poem, using the structure shown below and then read your poem after removing all but the last prompt:
I see _____
I hear _____
I smell ____
I feel _____
I wish _____
Title: Dusk Explorers
Author: Lindsay Leslie
Illustrator: Ellen Rooney
Publisher: Page Street Kids, 2020
Themes: dusk, exploring, outside activities
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.