Calling to mind the quiet, restrained loveliness of picture books such as The Night Is Deep and Wide and Before Morning, Charis St. Pierre and Rachel Wada bring readers Welcome, Dark. In the genre of children’s bedtime books, there are those that focus on the steps for getting ready for bed, as well as those that help curb our fear of the dark. But what about bedtime books that ask us to turn our gaze to the world outside our bedroom walls?
In Welcome, Dark, readers are asked to consider what happens in the natural world as we close our tired eyes. The story begins with a young child standing in their crib, gazing around their unlit room as a parent tends to them. Rather than focus the story on the parent and child, however, Welcome, Dark beckons us instead to the great outdoors. The story journeys from rabbits under rainy skies, to gulls soaring over expansive crops and small birds singing by a swaying chime, before circling back to the young child, snug in their crib, now peacefully sleeping.
Welcome, Dark lets readers know that the creatures and sounds we hear around us at night are preparing the world for morning, and rather than worry about what we can’t see, we can say welcome to the dark, welcome to the night. Due to its short, poem-like presentation, the story reads rather quickly and may seem slight upon a first reading. But readers would do well to give Welcome, Dark some time to breathe and grow, as there is something quite special in how it lulls and comforts. The combination of St. Pierre’s carefully chosen lyrical words and Wada’s lush grayscale watercolour- and graphite-inspired digital art will bring discerning readers into a softly muted, yet rich orchestra of experience. With its gentle cadence and naturalistic illustrations, Welcome, Dark is indeed a very welcome addition to cozy nighttime read-alouds.