when Hannah woke up,
she was surprised to find
that it was still dark.
She called out to her sister …
Hannah wakes in the night. Despite the darkness, it’s a familiar landscape and Hannah finds her way around the house, stopping in the bathroom and the kitchen before returning to the room she shares with her still-sleeping sister. She investigates her sister’s treasures as only an earnest toddler can before finally succumbing to sleep. Her only companion is the cat, and an early morning pigeon. Images are set on the page like the reader is watching through a window. The palette is the blues and blacks of night set in biscuit-y coloured pages.
Hannah’s Night was first published in Japan by Keisei-Sha Publishing and this English-language edition is published by Gecko Press (translated by Cathy Hirano). The text is spare and the illustrations realistic. Few parents would fail to recognise the wanderings in the night of a small child, wordlessly exploring and revisiting familiar activities (even if, in this case, some of those activities and belongings belong more to her sister than to Hannah). This is a beautifully-drawn observation of a small child. It would be fascinating to hear the responses of an older sister whose sibling has explored as Hannah has. Hannah’s Night is beautifully simple, simply beautiful. Recommended for young children.
Hannah’s Night Komako Sakai Gecko Press 2013 ISBN: 9781877579554
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
Available from good bookstores and online.