In the evening, when the air cools and the sky turns pink, Mother Bird tucks her babies safely down into their nest – and tells them about a boy who lives in the house nearby. He plays games, takes baths, gets ready for bed, and struggles with his mother – just as the little birds do! Children will delight in seeing themselves from a bird’s-eye view in this lushly illustrated bedtime story that’s as rhythmic and gentle as a lullaby.
“A pleasant tuck-me-in.”- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The quietly appealing narrative and warm, richly hued illustrations are just right for bedtime.” – The Horn Book
About the author:
Anna Egan Smucker is the author of No Star Nights, winner of the 1990 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award in the Younger Reader category. Her other books include A History of West Virginia, and To Keep the South Manitou Light – a historical fiction novel for young readers. With her husband, Kim, she has written parts of more than thirty workbooks and student texts in the areas of reading and social studies, and has worked as a teacher, librarian, and writer-in-residence. In addition to writing, Anna Egan Smucker gives author presentations and conducts writing workshops throughout the country. She makes her home in Bridgeport, West Virginia.
Anna Smucker www.annasmucker.com
A QUIET BEDTIME RITUAL
Publication: THE SUNDAY GAZETTE-MAIL
Byline: SUSAN TURNBULL
Anna Egan Smucker’s first book, “No Star Nights,” offered a child’s fascinated perspective on living in Weirton in the shadow of a pulsing steel mill, the glowing complex that swallowed everything in its reach, from the men in town to the stars at night.
Elementary teachers and librarians, hungry for regional literature, have loved the Brooke County native’s first book. In “Outside the Window,” the author has gone from history to heartstrings, writing a gentle, sleepy picture book about bedtime.
She takes us to the small and quiet scene of a nest of baby birds settling in for the night. The great maple branch that holds their nest also shelters the home of a little boy getting ready for bed himself.
Every night the little birds ask their mother about what the boy is doing. As the mother bird describes the boy leaving his sandbox, having his bath, brushing his teeth, being read to, and finally being tucked in, the little birds grow sleepier and sleepier.
This book will appeal primarily to very young children, who will like the humor and reassurance of the parallel bedtime routines of boy and birds. It is shorter than the average picture book, and has very little action, so it has to be read slowly and sleepily for the book to work its charms.
The illustrations, with all the colors and shadows of dusk, are a great match for Smucker’s writing. The pictures of the birds will add to the appeal for young children; the babies are bright-eyed and adorable, and the mother is calm and enveloping in her nest.
Though nothing like her first book, Smucker’s sensitivity to a child’s point of view is still evident, and teachers and parents of the very young will appreciate her handling of this most tender of family rituals.
Anna Smucker talks about “Outside the Window” and writing for children:
“Historical fiction is really my main area of interest, but I had an idea about writing a story about birds. I had been working on it for quite a while, but it just wasn’t going anywhere.
“One dusk, while taking my ritual evening walk, I was suddenly aware of the air being filled with flying birds. I imagined that they were rushing home to put their little ones to bed, just like I was going to do once I got home. There was my story! A bedtime story, with a twist.
“I have been so gratified by the response to the book. I thought it would appeal mostly to very young children, but when I visit schools, I find that the older children have enjoyed it as much as the younger ones. I think it is because everyone likes to be comforted and reassured. Teachers have been using the book in their classrooms, and I have been amazed at what people have done with what is essentially a quiet bedtime book.
“I was also really pleased with the illustrator’s work. She has a reputation for being able to create night scenes – which is why the editor chose her. But the wonderful thing was that she is also somewhat of a bird expert, so was able to paint the birds very knowledgeably. She even lives in a converted facility for birds in California.”