Lilah Tov Good Night

Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Feb. 2020. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781524740665.
PreS-Gr 1–This brief bedtime poem is enhanced by the lovely illustrations depicting a Jewish immigrant tale. The text is concise and simple. In rhyming verse it declares that night is arriving and it’s “Time to wish everyone good night.” It then uses the Hebrew phrase “lilah tov” (good night) followed by a series of animals and items in nature, ending with the child tucked in bed. The rhymes work well, and the scansion only stumbles once. The luminous, digitally colored pencil illustrations tell a more expansive story. A little girl and her family gather their most precious items (including a menorah) into two bundles, and journey through the countryside across a body of water, ultimately reaching a new home. They are dressed in early 20th-century Eastern European clothes. The child gazes longingly back at her home upon departure, but no one is there to see them off, and the trip has no sense of fear. The full-bleed illustrations all depict nighttime scenes, some of the family traveling, others of them resting from their journey. The point of view often focuses on an animal in the foreground, with the family in the distant background. Oddly, their new home looks barely different than the one they left.
VERDICT This book can be read as a simple bedtime story, or discussed as an immigrant tale. Either way, it will likely find a receptive audience with Jewish families in search of bedtime books, or families looking for immigrant stories. A pleasant addition.

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