|Image from MaurieJManning.com|
Late one night a little girl wakes up to the sounds of glasses clinking, water running, and muffled laughter. She wakes up her brother and together they creep down the dark stairs and peek into the kitchen. And what do they see? Mother and father dancing, four feet flying as they clean the kitchen! Mother’s bright skirt is swishing. Father croons a tune into a wooden spoon, “¡Cómo te quiero! Oh, how I love you. Umm, hmm.” The children try to sneak away, but their parents see them at the door and sweep them into a joyful nighttime dance. Now eight feet are flying and four voices are singing, “¡Cómo te quiero!” Too soon the children become tired and are tucked into bed, “Besitos, mi’ja. Sweet dreams,” says Mama. “Umm hmm,” replies the girl as she drifts to sleep.
This book has three sections. The first part is full of suspense as the children walk through the shadows of their dark house to find out what is going on in the kitchen. The second act bursts onto the scene with a riot of colors and movement as Mama and Papa are revealed in the kitchen. The third part wraps up the book as the sleepy children are carried to bed and tucked in for the night. The colors come full circle, bringing the children back to the warmth and comfort of their dark and shadowy rooms. The digital watercolor, Conté crayon, and chalk illustrations are soft and round. The characters are not stick thin people; there are curves and substance to these people who radiate joy and love. The text, full of sounds, “Scrape! Splash! Clunk! Clang!” begins in straight rows across the page, but once exposed to the chaos of the kitchen it too begins to swirl and dance. Using a variety of angles, Manning depicts a bilingual family with black hair and glowing brown skin (the exact cultural heritage of the family is not noted). Only three Spanish words/phrases are used in the book, "¡Hola!", “¡Cómo te quiero!” (I love you) and “Besitos, mi’ja” (Kisses, daughter), but they are woven into the text and do not disrupt from the flow of the story.
Pair this book with In the Night Kitchen for a kitchen themed storytime. Before or after you read this book talk about the different activities that happen in kitchens. Ask the kids what they do in their kitchen besides eating and cooking.
Bring in old pots, pans, and kitchen utensils and have the kids make their own music for dancing or turn on some bright, cheerful music and let the kids dance. Break out the scarves and shakers, too.
The author of the Of Thoughts and Words Blog suggests using this book to talk about onomatopoeias. Have a storytime around this theme and pair this book with titles such as The Little Blue Truck, Bark George or Toot Toot Zoom! These books are especially good candidates because the same 3-6 onomatopoeias are used multiple times and repetition is helpful when kids are learning a new concept.
Check out the book trailer for a peek at the drawings and spirit of the book.