Illustrated by Adriena Fong (super talented!!)
For ages 3+
Hurrah! The Summer Term is upon us, the weather is brighter and warmer and there's lots to look forward to - some incredible new children's books publishing over the next couple of months that I can't wait to share some of them with you through my kids book clubs. Welcome to my new post, and don't forget to download my FREE 'Ning and the Night Spirits' children's activity sheet (link at the end of the post).
With the worrying decline in reading stats for children (AGAIN) coupled with the cost of living crisis, I wasn't surprised to find out that my numbers for my before-school book club have halved. My group consists of Year 1 and Year 2 children. My Year 2 children who make up 80% of the attendees this term have almost all been with me since they started Year 1. This term I have only had 1 x Year 1 return to book club. It's incredibly worrying and makes me feel so so sad. One child from last term, in Year 1, told me how she wanted to return but her mum couldn't afford it and could I do something to help, of course I passed this onto the Head!! My heart aches. Having had no warning these numbers are so drastically down I haven't had a chance to try and work out a solution so we can be inclusive without barriers to those families affected by poverty.
About the book
'Ning and the Night Spirits' is a beautifully produced hardback picture storybook. The reader is introduced to a character of SouthEast Asian heritage (the author:illustrator is from Singapore), Ning, and his family, who live in a small village surrounded by forest and hills.
Unlike those around him, Ning is more scared of making friends than coming across a Night Spirit in the dark! The villagers light their lanterns to keep themselves safe. Ning escapes his parents' worried whispers one evening, travelling into the forest alone and falls asleep under a tree. On awakening he finds himself in the dark, but he isn't scared at all, because there are softly coloured Night Spirits surrounding him, and one particular Spirit Light who seems really afraid of Ning.
Ning learns that when humans came to the forest for the first time, they brought their bright lanterns with them, and this hurt the Night Spirits' eyes, causing them to hide away in the forest. Ning wants to help the night creatures, but he can’t do it alone. He finds his voice and feels brave, because he has found something he believes in. When he asks for help he makes some wonderful new friends, and now they can all care for their home together.
This is a wonderful story to share with children. On one hand we have a young child who lacks some social skills and confidence to make friends, on the other hand the wildlife are scared away from their natural habitat due to human settlement. Two important themes to help children with empathy and awareness. We aren't short of books with these themes, but I'm always looking for the extra mile in a children's picture book, and this ticks all the boxes and more through the attention to detail on the jacket, paper weight and feel, and the illustrations depicting an #ownvoices mystical SouthEast Asian folklore-esq tale. What's more, if you have a child who might be afraid of the dark, then this will be one for the collection at home too.
The book clubbers love it and, of course, so do I!! Looking forward to more children's books from Adriena Fong in the not-to-distant future.
Here are a few pages for you to enjoy before purchasing or borrowing the book ...
Whether it's a bookish Night Spirit or something more akin to the folklore and mythical creatures we know so well (in the West we have Will'o' the Wisps, for example), the children had a wonderful time exploring their own imaginations with this creative activity to accompany the book.
Download my FREE activity sheet
You can also find out about the origin of each of the Night Creatures featured in the book!
About the creator
Adriena Fong (author:illustrator)
Adriena is an illustrator born and raised in Singapore. In 2020, she graduated with a BA in Illustration at Falmouth University, UK. She loves working with gouache and colour pencils as well as textured brushes on Photoshop. With a keen interest in narratives of all sorts, her work hopes to instil a sense of warmth and wonder.
Afraid of the dark
East Asian mystical creatures
Grab a copy
Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...
Publication date: 4 May 2023
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