Review by Megan Litwin
DARK ON LIGHT by Dianne White and illustrated by Felicita Sala (Beach Lane Books, 2022) is everything that makes the picture book such a unique and nourishing book form. Precise language that both surprises and delights? Check. Beautiful art that also adds an important visual layer? Check. Perfect rhythm and pacing that make the entire reading experience an irresistible journey? Check.
From the very first pages, the reader is pulled in with White’s gentle, poetic voice. “Gentle the evening. Sweeping the skies. Dark the shadows as twilight arrives. Rose the horizon, gleaming and bright. Twilight and evening and dark on light.” As we watch a trio of children head out at dusk to search for their lost pup (frolicking and investigating nighttime wonders along the way), that phrasing continues in an inviting and tantalizing way. The pages practically turn themselves, it all feels so magical and other-worldly. By the end, when everyone is back home and all is well, the reader feels tucked into that snug, dark attic too, ready to sleep beneath that glowing moon. “Quiet the room. Soothing the chime. Dark the house that waits in time.” Don’t wait to check out this dreamy book!
If you lean toward the lyrical, as I often do myself, DARK ON LIGHT is a phenomenal mentor text (along with this author-illustrator team’s previous book, GREEN ON GREEN). On the first read, you’ll be pulled in by the mesmerizing language. Lean in and enjoy it. But on that second or third (or fourth) reading, notice how it is done. Notice the care White took with choosing her words, the unexpected way she structured them, and which ones she purposefully chose to repeat. There is nothing done by chance here. This is an example of a poet doing what poets do – finding the exact right words, and then finding the right way to string them together. Not easy work, of course, but seeing the effect of this work done well should be an inspiration for us all to keep at it!
To learn more about author Dianne White visit https://diannewrites.com/ or find her on social media @diannewrites.
To learn more about illustrator Felicita Sala visit https://www.felicitasala.com/.
Click here to purchase Dark on Light.
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