Hello Night / Hola noche

author: Amy Costales
illustrator: Mercedes McDonald
Luna Rising, 2007
 preschool-grade 2 

Hello Night / Hola noche begins at dusk. With a stroller parked outside, a young child in his mamá’s arms waves to the rising moon. As the two begin their nightly walk down a cobblestone path and through the woods to greet the rich nocturnal world, the child points to—and mamá greets—everything they see. For the two, each nightly experience is new and wondrous.

Hello night. Hello river. Hello bird with a chirp and a quiver.
Hola noche. Hola rîo. Hola pájaro de tímido pío pîo.

McDonald’s soft jewel-toned pastel illustrations of the world around them are as luminous as the night itself. Everything is alive and has volition, and some animals, looking directly at the humans who stroll among them, greet mamá and child in their own unique ways.

Hello night. Hello cricket. Hello mouse under the thicket.
Hola noche. Hola grillo. Hola arbusto y ratoncillo.

Large, double-page spreads alternate with single-page illustrations on the left side and a detail surrounded by white space on the right. Each spread contains, on the left, a rhyming couplet in English. It’s followed on the right by a rhyming couplet in Spanish. Neither couplet is a translation of the other; rather, each is its own poem. 

In an especially beautiful spread, Mamá and son are standing by the edge of a lagoon, looking up at what appears to be the luminous Azteca or Maya Rabbit Moon:

Hello night. Hello moon. Hello sky, dark lagoon.
Hola noche. Hola luna. Hola cielo, grande laguna.

Towards the end, youngsters will see a stuffed toy bunny alone, looking wistfully across the book to mamá giving her son (in ducky pajamas) one last hug before bed. And on the last double-page spread, the boy is asleep, cuddling the bunny, while the moon smiles down at them:

Goodnight night. It’s time to sleep. / I close my eyes without a peep.
Buenas noches noche. Estoy casi dormido. / Cierro los ojos sin gemido.

The luminous endpapers—front and back—depict a small, Mexican-styled house with a cobblestone path leading through a tiny enclosed orchard and out into the woods, where a winding path circles back to the house. There are cacti and agave growing near the house and the woods; and an owl, several rabbits, a cat, a raccoon, and fish swimming in a lagoon. Stars light up the sky.

With gentle, loving Spanish and English texts complemented by soft, vibrant illustrations, Hello Night / Hola Noche are calm, quieting bedtime poems for the youngest hablantes and English-speakers to contemplate and enjoy. Highly recommended. 

—Beverly Slapin
(published 4/1/20)

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