Monday, January 31, 2022


By Marie Dorléans


Translated by Polly Lawson


(Floris Books, 2020)


First published as NOUS AVONS RENDEZ-VOUS

(Éditions du Seuil, 2018)




From the first page, I knew this picture book was especially special. The two-page spread is dark blue, as throughout the book. It’s dark in the children’s bedroom. Two boys sleep in separate beds, their heads peeking out from checkered bedspreads as a sliver of light slips in from a hallway. The text: Mama opened our bedroom door, interrupting the night-time darkness. “Wake up, you two,” she whispered. “Let’s go, so we get there on time.”


That’s all that’s needed to set things up and to make the reader begin to engage with the book. Why do they have to get up so early? Where are they going? What happens if they’re late?


The title and the next page offer more context. It’s a night walk in the middle of the night. Out goes the family. They walk across the yard and through the community. [T]he last house in the village was almost asleep. It had one eye open, a reference to a single light on the second floor. They continue to the outskirts and beyond, into a forest, up to a lake and then a clearing before the final leg of the trek. Each scene has a light source to pierce or dot the darkness—a streetlight, a few stars, the moon. The story is simple and enchanting.


As I turned pages, I thought, “Why don’t I ever do this? Why are all my mountain hikes in the light of day?” (I’ve recently had bouts of insomnia and I’ve enjoyed the different characterization of downtown Vancouver as I walk in the pre-dawn hours.) I can imagine many families following the example of this book. Haven’t we all taken to the outdoors more since COVID changed our lives? Here’s another suggestion for creating precious memories.


I won’t divulge where the family is going, but they do get there on time. Sometimes a night’s rest interrupted is well worth it.