This time of year, one of your favorite things to do is to look at lights.
Your entire neighborhood is filled with all kinds of them. Lights on houses, lights on trees, lights on bushes, wire, decks and steps. You might see them on boats, in the park, on a statue or made into shapes in someone’s front yard. And you might even have them inside your own house, on a tree or in a window.
They’re twinkly. They’re bright. And you can’t stop looking at all the lights. So let’s take a walk to see the lights in “Dusk” by Uri Shulevitz.
It gets dark very early in the winter, sometimes even before you get home from school. On this one winter afternoon, a boy, his grandfather and their dog decide to take a walk around the city. By the time they got to the edge of the water, the sun was disappearing beyond the horizon.
“How sad,” the boy said. “The day is no more.”
But the grandfather (who had a very long beard) wasn’t worried. It was only dusk, which is what happens when the sun goes down.
On their way back to the city, they noticed that people were scurrying everywhere. Some were on their way back home at the end of the day. Others were hoping to do a little shopping at the downtown stores.
The grandfather and the boy met a lot of unusual people as they walked. One man was shopping for toys. A woman with a very fancy hat was looking for gifts for her kitten. People were looking for yummy things and weird things.
But the boy, his grandfather and their dog kept right on walking. It was starting to get dark. “As nature’s lights go out, city’s lights come on” and so did the lights on all the downtown stores! The boy saw Christmas lights on the streetlamps and on Christmas trees inside and outside. He saw candles on a menorah and children celebrating Hanukkah. He saw candles in another window standing proud on a kinara and surrounded by children celebrating Kwanzaa.
It was beautiful. It was magnificent. It was almost as if the sun was still out.
So your child wants a read-aloud tonight, but there’s not much time for it. Grab “Dusk,” then, because this book won’t take long.
Shulevitz tells a story of an evening stroll on a cold night and he does it with a handful of words; some pages, in fact, hold just a half-sentence. That forces you to take a slower, ambling pace in reading — somewhat like a leisurely walk.
And maybe because those words are so sparse, it’s easy to focus on the illustrations here — which is, perhaps, what you should be doing anyhow. Shulevitz’ drawings are done in gorgeous color, evoking the night chill and the warmth of the lights.
If you’re looking for a Kwanzaa-Christmas-Hanukkah book that will dazzle your 2- to 6-year-old, this one’s it. Read it, and “Dusk” could become one of her favorite things.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.