This is the most visually and verbally gorgeous picture book of the year. Owl loves the beautiful night and hearing about mysterious daybreak when “[d]ewdrops sparkle on leaves and grass like tiny stars come down . . . the sky brightens from black to blue, blue to red, red to gold.’’ Simple, dazzling - and simply dazzling.

This exceptional first book by Srinivasan, a talented illustrator — her animations can be seen in the film “Waking Life” and her illustrations in The New Yorker — follows Little Owl during his nighttime explorations. How does the night end? Little Owl asks his mama. Little Owl’s world, depicted in mossy greens and mushroom browns set dramatically against a black backdrop, is a romantic landscape of fireflies and nocturnal perambulations. Watch out, parents: this bedtime tale may even convert children who are afraid of the dark into adventuresome night owls.

This debut picture book gets it all just right. The story, while familiar, is executed deftly and with heart, and the crisp graphic elements of the artwork juxtapose well against the pretty prose. Little Owl, with his his big, big eyes and his itty-bitty wings is having “a wonderful night” as he flits between snails and stars. He watches an opposum family trek along and a skunk eating berries. Night is Little Owl’s playground, but inevitably the sun must come up, and when the bats come flying home, he asks his mother to tell him again how the night ends. “The moon and stars fade to ghosts . . . Spiderwebs turn to silver threads . . . Moonflowers close and morning glories open. The sky brightens from black to blue, blue to red, red to gold, she says, as the velvet blacks and foggy grays of the night slowly lighten to the colors of a breaking day. Cleverly, Srinivasan has turned the bedtime story upside down: now that the sun is out it’s time for sleep. Little ones who have enjoyed picking out the foxes, bears, and bunnies as the night wears on may find their own eyes closing just when Little Owl’s do. — Ilene Cooper

There's a surfeit of books about going to bed, but fewer about the beauty of night after all the humans have gone to sleep. In her debut, Srinivasan explores this world through the character of Little Owl, a mite of a bird with enormous green eyes. "Little Owl visited his friend the raccoon. As they sat in the clover, fog rolled in and hovered just overhead." There's no thread joining the events of Little Owl's pleasant evening; he thinks about showing his friend Bear the moon, but Bear doesn't wake up. Fox says hello, but doesn't stay. "Tell me again how night ends," Little Owl asks his mother. "The moon and stars fade to ghosts," she tells him. "Spiderwebs turn to silver threads." The story's chief virtue is its graceful, balletic prose; the artwork's crisp edges and cold greens and blacks, by contrast, have a polished, commercial feel--a Mary Blair vibe in a Photoshop era. It's a provocative inversion of the classic bedtime story, and a solid first outing. Srinivasan's message is that night is a delightful place, and that's useful knowledge for small children.

A graceful bedtime story celebrates the beauty found in night... Srinivasan’s picture-book debut beckons readers to follow this curiously adorable creature through the sky... Hold on to Little Owl’s tail feathers and soar.

With a soothing prose and crisply-drawn animals that beam beneath milky stars, Little Owl’s Night is a lullaby of a book that transforms the dark of night into a gentle, whimsical world in which a child can feel both curious and comfortable.

Wonderful in every sense.
September 8, 2011 By Pops
This book is a treasure! Children will love the characters, the story and the breathtaking illustrations. The style is unlike anything else I've seen, yet it somehow feels familiar at the same time. The story is fun and accessible without being overly simple; there's no baby talk in this book. It's beautiful and poetic, and combined with those adorable animals makes for a unique and memorable reading experience with your child. Wait until you see the bats! I don't know why we haven't seen any other books from this author before, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there are more to come. The children's book world needs more stuff like this! I've already given several copies as gifts, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive -- from kids and parents alike. Everyone is captivated from the first page. Trust me. Get this book. Get several copies. You'll thank me later.

Not Afraid of the Dark
September 5, 2011 By Isolate Lakes (Brooklyn, NY)
Beautiful and surprising illustrations--it's a treat to turn the page, both for my 2 year-old daughter and for me. Our daughter is just beginning to be afraid of the dark, but this book makes the nighttime inviting--it's bringing her around!

Love Little Owl!
September 4, 2011, By Kate Adams (Chicago, IL)
My son and I just read this book for the first time last night at bedtime-We love it! He is a 2.5 year old nature lover - we live in the city so this sweet (and BEAUTIFULLY illustrated) book is perfect for his adoration of all things plant and animal- I especially love the ending about the moonflower and morning glories... so gentle and well written and the characters already feel like old friends.

What a beautiful story!
September 2, 2011 By EbSruk
This book has been in our house for about 48 hours and it has already been read at least 15 times. The story is heartwarming and the illustrations are beautiful. My two year old loves identifying all of the different animals throughout the story. I can barely read the last page before he flips back to the beginning of the book crying out, `whooo, whoooo'.

Fantastic book!
September 2, 2011 By Buzz
Little Owl's Night is a beautiful book: great art, lovely story. Not only did my 3 1/2-year-old boy enjoy the story, it got him thinking about night animals vs. day animals, and he has been asking a lot of questions. If you've got some answers then you've got a poetic *and* educational book! Highly recommended!


copyright Divya Srinivasan