The Midnight Fair – by Gideon Sterer,  illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio

 The Midnight Fair – by Gideon Sterer,  illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio, Candlewick Press, 9781536211153, 2021

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book?  The charming artwork in this wordless picture book shows us what happens to a small fair perched at the edge of the woods once night falls. All the forest creatures slip under the fence and take over — working as barkers, running the rides, playing games on the midway and of course, crashing the bumper cars. When the manager arrives the next morning to open things up, everything is in apple pie order, although strangely, the ticket counter is covered with the leaves, acorns, shells and feathers (the legal tender used by the critters).  Color-saturated pencil and gouache show the animals with just the right balance of wildness and cuteness, mimicking human fairgoers. So mom and dad fox watch their kits tussle with a pretzel, a hedgehog uses his prickers to gather up and transport found candy and a fawn struggles with the roller coaster’s non-ergonomic restraint bar. The artist has chosen to present the images as a storyboard, with individual cells bordered by white lines, showing passage of time or zooming in for close-ups. It is possible to follow the fox who wins a goldfish through the whole adventure; we’re assuming he’ll gobble down his snack, but instead he frees it at dawn into a forest pond.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Wordless books with interesting stories always have their fans! This one would work well for children aged 3-6 and also for therapists or ELL teachers who want to have children use a book to “tell” a story out loud. The artwork is engrossing and there’s lots of detail on which to linger.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: March 14, 2021

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