Night Critters Play

Children - Picture Book
32 Pages
Reviewed on 10/22/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

It might be dark at night, but it’s actually very alive with life and an orchestra of nightly sounds. Nighttime is when the night critters come out to play: the crabs, armadillos, frogs, owls, hedgehogs, and porcupines, and even bugs galore. There are so many night critters that only feel safe in the dark of night, underneath the moonlit sky. Why? Because that’s when they can scavenge for food and even play and chatter amongst themselves without worrying about the daytime predators who would quickly make a meal out of them. Nighttime is a magical time until the lions roar and the sun starts to rise again in the morning, signaling to the nighttime critters that it’s time to hide and sleep.

Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie’s picture book story, Night Critters Play, is a charming, poetic look at that magical time when the world goes dark. Told in rhyming verse, the words flow lyrically like music. The author uses creative and colorful fonts to highlight certain words, helping young readers expand their reading vocabulary. The illustrations by Pamela B. Christiansen are spectacular and just as magical as the poetic story itself. The author leads the young reader through a moonlit scene full of critters, chattering and playing amongst themselves as they scavenge for food. In some ways, this story is a memoir, looking back on the author’s own childhood as he explored the family’s cocoa plantation in the daytime as well as at night. The story is soothing, engaging, lyrical, and entertaining, as well as educational. A real treasure to cherish and enjoy multiple times over.

Jamie Michele

What happens in the animal world when the sun goes down, and the moon shines out? In their children's book Night Critters Play, this is the question answered by author Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and artist Pamela B. Christiansen. Critters from the water, land, and sky move through over two dozen colorful pages that show the littlest readers a slice of nature they are most likely unaware of. Nocturnal praying mantises and grasshoppers are shown in tall grass, and an armadillo, wary without the cover of the dark, is able to come out of its restful hiding space. Safety for some animals who are susceptible to becoming a fast meal during the day can go about their lives with "eagles moon-banished and vultures at bay...". Before long, it is time for the moon to go back to bed and a new day begins for those who roam in the sun.

There is nothing more precious to a parent than to have a child's head in their lap as their tiny fingers skim a page even when they are not quite old enough to read along. Sometimes those little fingers stop us from turning to the next page, silently asking us to let them stay in this spot of the story for a moment longer. For the last four nights, Night Critters Play has been the bedtime story of choice. The last time my daughter was as enthusiastic about a book as she is with Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and Pamela B. Christiansen's treasure, well, I don't recall the last time. Like her, I am mesmerized over and over by the vibrant, transcendent style of the illustrations and poetry of words. Like her, I look forward to another night with the night critters and another successful pre-bedtime treat.

Asher Syed

Night Critters Play, written by Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and illustrated by Pamela B. Christiansen, is a children’s picture book that showcases a menagerie of animals and insects and how they emerge when the sun has finally set. Written in a lyrical omniscient sing-song narrative, all manner of life after dark is summoned with the invitation of the owl proclaiming, “Hoo, hoo, friends, come out now and watch us fly.” From here, we are introduced to crickets wanting to play in the thickets, hungry hedgehogs and porcupines, and the bark of a crocodile that signals night play is over, among many other actively nocturnal critters. All of this is shown in vibrant full color with art from the hand of Christiansen with smooth, contemporary monotyping and a matrix that fills the page.

I don’t even know where to begin with how exceptionally gorgeous Night Critters Play is. The first thing that grabs you is the illustrations. Oh my goodness, those illustrations! The stunning jewel tones with an abstract representation of animals in the night put Pamela B. Christiansen at the forefront as an artist. I am rarely at a loss for words, but these are breathtaking. Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie’s words run in perfect tandem, writing in an engaging narrative that immediately pulls both children and adults into a night in West Africa, a space he once inhabited himself. The pairing of Kwami Nyamidie and Christiansen is a true dream team, and I would give this book a whole bucket of stars if I could.

Barbara Fanson

The dark purple and burgundy colors fill the page with stylized illustrations to attract readers to Night Critters Play while the rhyming story will fill them with a sense of wonder. The pages are filled with an abundance of descriptive words like surge, flit, glow, and slide, crawl, leap, flip, and soar. What a wonderful but subtle way to expand a child’s vocabulary! Author Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie has written an amazing story of creatures that creep during the night that will have children wanting to stay up late one night just to see for themselves. Teachers will refer to this book for its descriptive verbs but also for illustration techniques. Children will learn about animals, insects, and other critters that go bump in the night.

Illustrator Pamela B. Christiansen supplies us with full-page, stylized artwork that will have children looking for the animal or insect’s image amongst leaves and grasses. I love the stylized illustrations in the book with their dark “evening” colors. Beautiful elegance awaits as you turn each page. I loved how some words are colored, enlarged, and meant to pop out of the story to add a splash of color to the text. Author Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie paints a picture with his descriptive and rhyming text that children—and parents—will enjoy reading. I think every school and public library should have Night Critters Play on the shelf for its descriptive poem and unusual illustration style.

Rylanne Burdette

Night Critters Play by Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie is an adorable children’s picture book with beautiful illustrations by Pamela B. Christiansen. Featuring various night creatures as they come out when it is dark, this quick-read book rotates between illustrations and text. As the sun begins to rise once night reaches its end, it’s time for these creatures to head back into their habitats as new animals come out to play during the day. This cycle repeats with every twenty-four hours that pass, the sun and moon rising and setting in the sky, and different critters enjoying their time outside. Night Critters Play is a cute and fun book that is perfect for all young children.

Although Night Critters Play is a concise book, I could have spent forever looking at the beautiful illustrations on every other page. Esseboe Kwami Nyamidie and Pamela B. Christiansen created such a delightful story that is sure to captivate young children who are learning to read but still love picture books. Getting to explore and see these critters come out of their homes to enjoy the night was fun even for me as an adult, and I can imagine many parents loving this book just as much as their kids. Night Critters Play is an easy read that would make a great learning tool for young readers who want to learn new words and also see illustrations of animals they may never have heard of before. I would recommend Night Critters Play to all children and their parents!