The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson
Illustrated by Beth Krommes
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
"Here is the key to the house. In the house burns a light. In that light rests a bed. On that bed waits a book." As a girl picks up the book, her imagination takes flight on the wings of the bird that lays inside it, and she takes us all the way to the moon and back to "the house in the night, a home full of light."
An old nursery rhyme collected in The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book (1955) begins with the verses: "This is the key of the kingdom: / In that kingdom is a city, / In that city is a town, / In that town there is a street..." (from Swanson's Author's note at the end of The House in the Night). This nursery rhyme was the inspiration for Swanson's beautiful book. The text follows a cumulative pattern and it takes you from the smallness of a key to the immensity of the sky and, then, backtracking, all the way back inside the house.
The House in the Night is a wonderful bedtime story, taking the readers on a journey to the vastness of the world, but always coming back to the comfort of the home and a warm bed. The text is beautiful, no doubt about it, but the real stars for me are the illustrations by Beth Krommes. They are nothing short of spectacular. They are made scratchboard style and there is no color, all black and white except for splashes of gold to highlight specific objects (the sun, the moon, the lamp, the book, the teddy bear). This is the kind of picture book that will stay with you because of its utter beauty. Just gorgeous!