Before Morning
Before Morning

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Annotation: In this picture book, a child's wish is realized when a snow day transforms the busy world into a peaceful day of family and togetherness.
Catalog Number: #127072
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Illustrator: Krommes, Beth,
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-547-97917-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-95040-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-547-97917-5 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-95040-5
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2014048523
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
After a series of wordless illustrations, Sidman's poetic text begins ("In the deep woolen dark, as we slumber unknowing"). A child's mother, dressed in pilot uniform, departs. The ensuing incantation is for snow to come ("Let the air turn to feathers, the earth turn to sugar"), and, sure enough, a blizzard grounds planes. Krommes's scratchboard illustrations do the narrative work in this mesmerizing book.
Publishers Weekly
In a book-length poem, Newbery Honor recipient Sidman (Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night) expresses a heartfelt wish for a blizzard so big that it brings everything to a halt; Caldecott Medalist Krommes (The House in the Night) imagines a child for whom a snow day matters more than most. The child-s mother is an airline pilot, and the first spreads show the girl and her father preparing to say good-bye to her. In this context, Sidman-s words (-Let the sky fill with flurry and flight-) take on a different meaning; the child clearly hopes that, just this once, her mother might stay. As the snow starts (-Let the air turn to feathers-), the mother sets off for the airport, but when she realizes no flights are leaving (-Let urgent plans founder- accompanies huddling groups of stranded airport travelers), she turns back. Krommes-s sturdy, rounded figures and quiltlike compositions convey the family-s joy as the mother returns. The story-s parallel but separate threads-the innocent images of the poem, the cheery reassurance of the illustrations, and the tension of the family-s wait-give this collaboration significant emotional depth. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
K-Gr 2&12; At dusk, a woman, child, and dog hurry out of the park and pass by a bakery, though the wool-capped girl clearly wants to stop. They enter their apartment, where Dad has dinner ready, and everyone looks happy except the girl, who's staring dolefully at a cap that sits atop a small suitcase. In the next illustration, as the windows reflect the night, a book about Amelia Earhart lies open on the couch as the mother, in her airline pilot's uniform, seems to coax her child into returning the cap she's hiding behind her back. Turn the page, and beyond the entry hall filled with winter clothes, skates, and sled, the mother is folding and packing clothes into her overnight bag. Only then do the words begin: "In the deep woolen dark,/as we slumber unknowing,/let the sky fill with flurry and flight." This haunting invocation summons geese, snowflakes, and a heavy whiteness that refracts the golden city lights. Krommes shows viewers the city from the rooftops, from the back of goose wings, and from the statues in the park. When the poem says, "Let urgent plans founder," we see the airport waiting room, where the mother gazes out at snowplows under the planes as a sign announces flight cancellations. Any child might be wishing for snow to "change the world before morning," to "make it slow and delightful and white," but here, as a stunning series of scratchboard (similar to woodcut) and watercolor pictures reveal, the petitioner is a girl who longs to have both her parents home with her to sled down a steep white slope and to visit that bakery at last. VERDICT This simply perfect book is a must-have piece of portable poetry and art for all collections.&12; Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The team that produced Swirl by Swirl (2011) offers another story both intimate and glorious. A young girl hides her mother's pilot cap, knowing that it will soon be time for Mom to fly away again. Indeed, as the child sleeps, the mother heads to the airport. But what's this? Around the brownstone's windows, snowflakes are drifting. Soon the sky is white, and by the time Mom reaches the airport, enough snow has fallen to cancel the flight. She flags down a tow truck that drops her at home, resulting in unexpected time with family to "make it slow" with sleds and hot chocolate. It is rare in picture books to find words and art so perfectly matched, though perhaps not surprising given the talents of Caldecott winner Krommes (The House in the Night, 2008) and Newbery Honor Book author Sidman (Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, 2010). Each phrase in Sidman's spare text evokes the heart and the senses (let "the earth turn to sugar"), while Krommes' scratchboard art is so intricately rendered, so full of story, that each page could be investigated dozens of times. At book's end, Sidman explains the text as an invocation, inviting readers to throw their own words and wishes into the air. Who could resist?
Reading Level: 2.0
Interest Level: P-2

There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a child uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, to persuade fate to bring her family a snow day -- a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together. In a spare text that reads as pure song and illustrations of astonishingly beautiful scratchboard art, Sidman and Krommes remind us that sometimes, if spoken from the heart, wishes really can come true.

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