In the Dead of the Night

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Arthur McBain (text) and Tom Knight (illustrator), In the Dead of the Night, Hardie Grant Egmont, September 2019, 32pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760503413

The familiar trope of the child frightened by noises in the night is executed with aplomb by first time author Arthur McBain. The comical illustration style employed by Tom Knight, combined with McBain’s rhyming couplets, take the edge off the scariness for younger children, without spoiling the suspense.

Mostly bright and garish colours contrasted with plenty of black, and judicious use of white backgrounds make for an effective palette. Angles and curves – think torches and shadows – accentuate the look. The text is presented in a clear, black font which pops out with an array of sizes and effects, to emphasise the many scary moments, building to the climax.

Lily is woken by a knocking, which persists as she imagines all the horrible creatures that could be the cause. Finally, in a show of incredible bravery, she collects weapons from around her room and heads off to fight whatever it is, for she fears for the safety of her little brother. Crescendo is reached as she jabs with the broom at a monster in her brother’s room. It is a fitting highlight, followed by just one page out of rhyme, as little brother says:

“HUH? And WHY ON EARTH are you wearing that creepy mask? You scared me!”

Chaos is explained; peace restored; and Lily takes her little brother back to her room for the rest of the night. Nicely done!

Reviewed by Marita Thomson

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