Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Once Upon a Northern Night

Arsenault, Isabelle (Illustrator)
Groundwood Books 2013. 36 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781554981380 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Picture Book

Text Elements:

figurative language, setting

Awards

Governor General’s Literary Award – Finalist – 2013
TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2014
USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

In this lyrical lullaby, a child sleeps soundly while the magic of a northern night unfurls, beginning with one tiny snowflake. As the snow accumulates, wild creatures appear in the garden. They nuzzle, scamper, prance and scurry. Wind tickles the trees, stars shine bright and the nimble northern lights play their green, pink and orange melodies across the sky. This is an enchanted scene, framed by the frost-touched window of a child’s bedroom.

The poetic text includes vivid imagery: snow is described as a “downy blanket,” mounded “vanilla ice cream” and “puffs of creamy white.” A night owl with its “great silent wings” leaves “a feathery sketch of his passing in the snow.” The repetition of “Once upon a northern night” adds a hypnotic, lullaby rhythm.

Digitally assembled mixed media illustrations evoke the beauty and wonder of a northern winter night and the cozy warmth and security of a slumbering child. Muted greys and browns are punctuated with occasional splashes of blue, green and red.

An excellent nighttime or seasonal read-aloud, this book will stir children’s imaginations as it captures all the rhythms of a gentle winter night.

  •  

    Before reading, brainstorm for symbols for winter outdoors (sparkling snow, frosty breath, etc.). Distinguish between city and country winters.

  •  

    Discuss what makes this story a lullaby (e.g. repetition, rhythm, soft images, cozy references). What lullabies do you remember from when you were young?

  •  

    Hunt for descriptive language (similes, metaphors, imagery). Select your favourites and add them to your personal word list.

  •  

    What elements could be included in a comparable poem entitled “Once Upon a Northern Summer (Fall, Spring)”? Write a few verses of one.

  •  

    Before reading, brainstorm and list words and symbols for winter outdoors (sparkling snow, frosty breath, etc.). Distinguish between city and country winters.

  •  

    As the lullaby is read a second time, add winter words and descriptive language to your list. Using your prior knowledge of poetry in French, discuss which expressions are similes, metaphors or imagery.

  •  

    Transform your winter word list into an anchor chart by adding collected drawings and pictures.

  •  

    Choose a winter element and create a short poem (Haiku, cinquain, diamante, acrostic) using words from the winter anchor chart.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To solve problems
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Science and Technology
  • Visual Arts