The Night Knights by Gideon Sterer and Cory Godbey

The Night Knights, nobly written by Gideon Sterer to assuage nighttime fears, is magnificently, gorgeously illustrated by Cory Godbey. In fact, Godbey's illustrations are so engrossing that I occasionally had to remind myself to read the text on the page.
The Night Knights begins with a regal tone and this sound logic, "When the sun fades . . . and we fall asleep, some believe it to be a time of monsters. Indeed, some are sure of it.  But if this is true, is it not strange that not once, not once, has a child been taken, or gotten or bit? Is it not strange that not once, not once, has a monsters ever actually been seen?"
Maybe monsters don't exist, or maybe it is because, "as the world turns off its lights . . . they take their place," the Night Knights. Flying the "flags of sleep the Watchmen do not blink. Tonight nothing scampers. Tonight nothing sneaks." The almost-rhyming, gentle (but firm) cadence of Sterer's words will lull readers, but Godbey's illustrations, cloaked in the deep purples of darkness, are filled with a quiet energy that is hard to ignore.
In addition to the armored knights on horseback, there are Archers and the Midnight Flock, tended by the Keeper of the Owls, patrolling the skies. There is a fleet patrolling the sea and, for special nights, the Knights of Near, "Smaller, but of equal strength . . . they stand where there is fear." Cute, but fierce, the Knights of Near are from the fairy realm and also, sharp eyes will notice, toys in the room of the main character, a boy. Sterer ends The Night Knights with the assurance that, if you do hear a, "bump, or thump, or scratch," and fear the monster is near, "wait just a moment," then another, and you will see that over and over, again and again . . . nothing ever comes." Your room is your castle, your house is your kingdom, and the Night Knights will always keep their promise to keep the night safe.

I've been reading picture books as a parent and professional for twenty-five years now. Often trite and unimaginative, bedtime picture books are rarely favorites of mine. But, the fairy tale realm, especially when presented with richly detailed, lush illustrations is always a favorite. With his regally reassuring text, Sterer has created something new and magical in the world of going to bed books. Add to that Godbey's stellar illustrations and you have a picture book that is a must-have!

Source: Review Copy

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