Teddy’s Top Picture Books of 2018: #5 “Night Job” by Karen Hesse and illustrations by G. Brian Karas
In is almost the end of the year. Throughout December, I am going to highlight some of the best new picture books written in 2018. Number 5 on that list is “Night Job” by Karen Hesse and illustrations by G. Brian Karas.
In this story, a young boy tags along with his dad who works an overnight shift as a custodian at a school.
Personally, this book speaks to me because it reminds me of times growing up, when I’d accompanied my mom when she did custodial work at a school for the blind and a Greek Orthodox Church. I’d imagine this book speaks to many children in this current generation of children too as many parents have to work multiple jobs and or non traditional hours.
Many recent articles have come out highlighting the trouble parents who work non traditional hours finding child care.
I would not be surprised if many parents do end up bringing their child to work at night.
The book also makes interesting choices that reflect the world as it is today. While the whereabouts of the mother is never explicitly addressed, the story narrative never shows mom and gives the impression that she is not around. Single father homes are also on the rise which also makes this book timely.
But If this book was just timely, it would not be great. What makes it great is how Karen Hesse uses an economy of words to bring you into the world of the night shift. The illustrations by G. Brian Karas also do a great job setting the scene. I especially loved how the illustrations show the various lights and shadows that one sees at night. The book is so well designed that a big part of the story is told on the two title pages. On the first title page, we get an exterior shot of the apartment complex the father and son live along with a little foreshadowing as we see the motorcycle they will ride to the job in the parking lot.
On the second title page we get a wordless comic style vignette of the son preparing his dad’s lunch. It’s important to note, that throughout the book, the son is happy to be working the night shift with his dad. Even the back cover serves as an epilogue to the whole story reinforcing that theme.
A story like this could spark a lot of discussions in classrooms (preschool to college classrooms!) both with a group and with individual students.