Monday, November 06, 2006

review: Night Shift Daddy

Night Shift Daddy by Eileen Spinelli. Illustrated by Melissa Iwai. Hyperion, 2000 (0-7868-0495-5) $14.99

A little girl's daddy works the night shift; while she sleeps, he sweeps. But still, they have plenty of special time together: a loving ritual for her bedtime, and then in the morning, the same loving ritual in reverse for his. Told in easy rhyme, this is an unusually playful take on working-class family life, offering just a hint of the harder side of the situation: "He doesn't know I watch him go/into the cold, the dark, the snow--down to the bus stop, bundled up,/holding his thermal coffee cup." Paintings in deep, rich colors add layers to the story: the little girl is mostly big round eyes, a button nose and a smile, but the father's face is given more depth and detail, allowing empathetic readers a glimpse into his weariness and the loneliness of his job. But most children will simply enjoy this book for its affectionate tone and the highly satisfying turnabout of the bedtime ritual, in which the daughter gets to put the daddy to bed. (2-6)