Saturday, April 22, 2006

Jack and the Night Visitors by Pat Schories

Jack and the Night Visitors
by Pat Schories
Ages: 2-5
Topics: dogs, aliens, robots

In this wordless picture book, Jack, a little white dog with orange spots and an attentive manner, and his purple p.j. -clad companion, the boy, are visited one night by a spacebus of tiny aliens. The aliens, who look like tiny robots with antenna, are friendly and scamper into the bedroom and immediately set to playing with all the little toy cars, trucks, and superheroes. But the visitors have arrived hungry, and Jack and the boy get them a large bowl of dry cereal, which really delights the aliens and builds trust between them and the boy. Alas, the boy wants to keep one of the visitors and captures him in a large glass jar, which causes a horrible commotion. Happily, Jack is there to rescue the little guy and send the travelers off on their way.

The illustrations clearly tell this simple story, making it a great "independent" book for young children, while having plenty of details for older children to point out. Below is the illustration where the alien communicates hunger.
As you can see, Jack and the boy are visually connected: they are together in every scene, the boy's orange hair is the same color as Jack's orange spots, and the two often share the same expression. The illustrations are mostly double page spreads, but there are also some vingettes (for example, getting the cereal). Children will delight in the bright illustrations, strong sense of pace and action, the familiar and appealing characters.

While I think this is an excellent picture book, I do have a peeve about the front cover. As you can see, the illustrations and characters are darling, but the cover completely fails to communicate this. Also, unless you're familiar with the previous Jack books or carefully read the front jacket, you might easily think that the boy is Jack, rather than the dog. There are two previous Jack books, Breakfast for Jack and Jack and the Missing Piece. Pat Schories is also the illustrator of the Biscuit books by Alyssa Satin Capucilli.


Anonymous Trevor Smith said...

Pat Schories books have been a part of my life since my first memories. She has an uncanny way of illustrating children's books the same way a child might. Her illustrations can tell a great story without using any words. The nonverbal ways her characters tell the story makes them a good read for children yet to learn the abc's or for an adult to be entertained while sharing the book with their kids.

6:26 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Hi Trevor,

Thanks for visiting. I have to say, I really like children's books without words. They enable independence in the youngest readers and are fun to interpret with your child.

7:50 PM  

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