Title: Grandfather Twilight
Author: Barbara Berger
Age Category: Infant to 2 years
Genre: Baby Board Books
Grandfather Twilight, by Barbara Berger: Summary
The central character of Barbara Berger’s baby board book Grandfather Twilight is, logically enough, an old man with white hair and beard named Grandfather Twilight. He lives in a beautiful deciduous forest and spends his days reading in a comfortable armchair, accompanied by his dog, his cat, and a bird.
The story of this board book traces Grandfather Twilight’s evening routine. He takes a pearl from an endless strand he keeps in a wooden chest and goes for a walk with his dog. As he walks, the pearl grows, the sounds of the forest hush, and the colors of a beautiful twilight sky fan out behind him like a misty ethereal wake. At this point the illustrations alone tell the story for a time, unaided by text.
He walks to a rocky beach and then, as night falls, he releases the growing pearl—which turns out to be the moon—into the sky. Then he returns home and goes to bed. As he sleeps in his bed, his quilt is a beautiful twilight sky, populated by fluffy white clouds (one of which is his flowing white beard). Grandfather Twilight is aptly named: he is indeed the keeper of that special time between day and night, twilight.
Enchanting Illustrations, Familiar Things
The subjective appeal of Barbara Berger’s baby board book—i.e., that which makes the book appealing to babies and toddlers—lies chiefly in its enchanting illustrations. The earth tones of the forest combine with the rich pastels of the twilight sky to produce a calming feast for the eyes. My favorite illustration is the one where the evening colors begin to flow behind Grandfather Twilight. It is as if he effortlessly paints the stunning twilight sky across every point he passes. The soft-focus style of the illustrations adds to their appealing gentle feel. They remind me of playing outside as a child on long summer evenings.
Babies and toddlers will also enjoy the board book’s portrayal of animals and objects that are familiar to them. Grandfather Twilight’s dog and cat are sure to please. The final scene shows them snuggled together, asleep (“ahh, aren’t they cute…”). Also, as Grandfather Twilight walks through the forest, we see birds among the trees, and rabbits in a field. Some children might also recognize the old man as a grandfather like theirs.
The language of Barbara Berger’s board book is also pleasing. Right before the colors begin to flow in Grandfather Twilight’s wake, the text reads, “The pearl grows larger with every step. Leaves begin to whisper. Little birds hush.” Such language lets the reader feel the gentle quiet settling over the scene.
A Calming Bedtime Routine
The central developmental value of this baby board book is its calming influence as a bedtime story. As I suggested above, everything in the book is gentle and calming—the illustrations, the language, and even the story itself. Indeed, the whole point of the story is to explain—in a clever, soothing, mythical way—the change from day to night, from awake to asleep. At the end of the board book Grandfather Twilight, and even his pets, are asleep in bed. Thus, the entire progression of the story is toward bed. Here, then is a book that both prepares a young child for bed by calming him, and shows the child what comes next: bedtime. Barbara Berger’s baby board book was regularly a helpful part of the bedtime routine for our children when they were young.
Finally, the baby board book’s portrayal of familiar objects—dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, the moon, a grandfather, etc., as I noted above—is developmentally valuable for language acquisition. The parent can easily match words to the objects as the baby notices and points to them, thereby facilitating her learning of language.
In short, Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger is an enchanting baby board book that can play a calming, helpful role in the bedtime routine of any toddler or baby. I highly recommend it and encourage you to find it in your local library, or to support our work by purchasing it through the links in this post or in the Children’s Books and Reviews Online Bookstore. You will also find many other children’s books appropriate for babies and toddlers in the Online Bookstore.
For additional recommendations from the About.com site for baby board books, click here.
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