Isobelle Carmody Review: Night School

Isobelle Carmody Review: Isobelle Carmody is a well known children and young adults author, and has written many award winning books.

Night School is Isobelle Carmody's new picture book for older readers. It's certainly not something I would read to younger children, as they may have trouble getting to sleep that night, I imagine. Night School can be pretty scary at times.

The story centres on a group of children who spend the night in a deserted school. The school is very old and has a menacing appearance, like something from an Edgar Allen Poe story. By the way, the illustrations, by Anne Spudvillas, are fabulously spooky, and done in what looks to be a mixture of watercolour and inks.

The pictures evoke an eerie, misty sense of unease.

That night the children go on an adventure in the big old school. They climb layers of stairs to the upper floors, where shadows reign. Each child has the task of writing their name on the wall of three rooms. The only light source available is a candle that casts long shadows on the walls.

While completing their tasks, the school reveals a secret that the children do not expect...

Like I said, the story can be a little scary...

Isobelle Carmody Review cont...

Night School is written with wonderfully evocative language. The story opens with:

"Night is coming and this old school by the wilderness empties. The rules of day wither and blow away.

Now it is a school for shadows."

Excerpt from Night School, by Isobelle Carmody, 2010.

The opening paragraph is an example of the verse like text that is featured throughout the story. Like poetry, the sentences are often short, sharp, and full of hidden meaning.

It's great to read. I've had an enormous amount of fun already helping students to discover and discuss the meaning of the many rich metaphors that Isobelle Carmody seems to produce effortlessly. Though I suspect the story, and its expertly polished prose, had been crafted over a long period of time.

Night School is highly recommended - for older children.

Night School is published by Penguin Books.

Return from Isobelle Carmody Review to 6th Grade Books

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