Monday, May 9, 2011

Night in the Barn by Faye Gibbons illustrated by Erick Ingraham

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT.......That's the first thing that came to mind when I opened up to the first page of the book Night in the Barn by Faye Gibbons.  "Bet your afraid," says Willie to the narrator and his cousins, Julius and Dan.  This was the night the four boys planned to spend the night in the barn.  Leaving their dog behind in the house, the four guys packed up what they needed.....sleeping bags, snacks, and coats.  Off to the barn they went. 

I remembered back to the times that we had sleep over parties outside in tents.  Not only would just the nightime elements scare us, but for some reason neighbors (other kids) would find out what we were doing and would try to scare us, too.  We were all exhausted from staying up all night long, afraid to fall asleep.

Shadows, the pillars and planks of the barn squeeking, the idea that there maybe ghost lurking behind corners just finding the right moment to pounce was weighing heavy on the boys.  Just as the boys got settled in there sleeping bags, a rustle was heard getting closer and closer.  To their relief, it was their faithful K9.  Sleep was next.

Varnished watercolor illustrations were used to create a dark and mysterious mood.  Perfect!  The illustrator, Erick Ingraham, published his first children's book in 1977.  His talent for drawing won many awards to include the American Book Award and BIB for Porcupine Stew in 1983 and a Boston/Horn Award for Cross-Country Cat.

Faye Gibbons, the author, was born in the mountains of north Georgia.  No running water, indoor toilets, and electric lights.  It's not wonder why she wrote a great story about the outdoors.  She remembers riding in wagons pulled by mules and playing out in the woods.  Her stories start with a picture in mind.  From there a main character is developed and the setting unfolds. She comments that most of her stories are about family because family was so important to her.

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