Night Lunch

Tundra. Sept. 2022. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780735270572.
Gr 1-3–A horse drawn lunch wagon rolling down a moonlit seemingly deserted city street gathers a crowd of surprising customers in this atmospheric nocturne. To Fan’s quietly rhythmic text—“Drip, drop, coffee’s hot./ Noses sniff the air./ Shuffle yawn, bellies growl./ The night lunch bell is ringing”—running across the bottom, Seiferling pairs misty scenes of sidewalks and closed stores, glimmering streetlights, and dark apartment buildings. Who would be out at such a late hour? “Night Owl” proclaims the sign on the wagon with perfect truth, for the proprietor/cook turns out to be a large owl, and the queued up clientele? A badger, a fox, a family of porcupines, moths, opossums, and other wildlife sporting hats, purses, and other anthropomorphic gear place orders for mince pie, sandwiches, biscuits, or pudding. Some diners sit down to eat (the wagon is larger on the inside than outside), others take away bags. And after the rush, as the sky begins to brighten and before closing up, the owl invites a tiny mouse who has been hopefully sweeping up the crumbs to share a sumptuous high tea. A hint of mischief animates this peaceful, harmonious alternative to such noisier peeks at what animals really do at night as Gideon Sterer’s The Midnight Fair, illustrated by Mariachiara Di Giorgio.
VERDICT A pleaser for story time or bedtime, with distinctive art that adds quiet touches of humor and mystery.

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