To me, tranquility is a calm, balmy hour after dusk, when the breeze is gentle, the air is soft, and the light is low. Everything melts into the most mysterious and alluring hues, and I’m surrounded by my favorite color. Author and illustrator Isabelle Simler must feel the same way: how better to lull children to sleep than with a book about the most soothing time of day? The lush, gentle illustrations of The Blue Hour reflect the idea perfectly.
The Blue Hour is an adventure through the cool side of the animal kingdom’s color spectrum. It highlights many different species of animals in varying stages of getting ready for nighttime, as well as some plants and even one fungus! I appreciate the diversity of organisms included. The animals in the book come from all over the world, and acquaint readers with all kinds of branches of the tree of life. One of my favorite inclusions was the blue dragon, Glaucus atlanticus, an epic example of a swimming sea slug. The illustrations are gorgeous, giving all the species plenty of personality.
Some of the text is unnecessarily complex for a children’s book, especially since this genre is often read out-loud. This tongue-twister especially gave me pause the first time through: “Vulterine guineafowl eagerly flock together, perching on tree branches with a final metallic cry.” Even so, the visual experience is so inviting that this hardly impacts the experience.
As a rookie naturalist, I have to nitpick: I do wish Simler spent as much time learning about the featured animals as she did studying their forms to illustrate. There are a couple animals depicted in the wrong habitats, or shown in ways that don’t reflect their true behavior and life history. It also rubbed me the wrong way to see songbirds from four continents perching together on one branch.
While I wouldn’t use this as an educational tool, The Blue Hour is serene, lovingly rendered, and sure to spark curiosity about the natural wonders of our little blue planet.
All in All…
- 4/5 sea stars
- Published February 20, 2017, by Eerdman’s Books for Young Readers
- 42 pages
- For fans of Goodnight Moon, Planet Earth & other nature documentaries
I received this book free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.