4 out of 4 stars
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’Twas The Night by Marin Darmonkow is a remarkable book. It doesn’t tell a story; it shows a story. There is neither narrative nor dialogue as the tale is completely visual. A young boy in a wheelchair finds an injured dove in the street. He takes it home and nurses it back to health.
The whole book has a surreal quality to it. It’s nighttime on Christmas Eve and the streets are completely empty of cars and people. Although the shops and houses are ablaze with light, there is a feeling of solitude. The boy and the dove appear to be the only living things in the whole world. The surreal quality expands as the book moves on to a point where reality and dream are confused and the magic begins to unfold.
The lack of words is the strength of this book because every page elicits an emotional response. Loneliness, love, care, wonder and triumph jostle for room in this emotional yet gentle rollercoaster. I love the artwork from the cityscapes to the pictures on the walls of the little boy’s home. Most significant is the picture of Peter Pan’s shadow. The boy who never grew up; the boy who could fly. Yet this is his shadow. Parallels can be drawn between Peter Pan’s shadow and the wheelchair-bound boy.
There are lots of loose ends for the reader to ponder over. When the boy fell asleep, his glasses were on the pillow. When he awoke, they were on the bedside table. These are not errors, they indicate that dreams and reality are becoming confused and we are not able to judge when he is asleep and when he is awake.
Although this is ostensibly a children’s book, I think its appeal will span every age group from the very young to the very old. I loved this book. I loved everything about it and it is with great pleasure that I award it 4 out of 4 stars.
'Twas the Night
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