Night shift: review of The Insomniacs

The Insomniacs catalog link

Many creatures are happily nocturnal, making the most of the dark. Raccoons, bats, owls (unless they’re being hypnotized), and the list goes on. But humans… well, it depends.

Humans are big on lullabies. We explain the difference between night and day by saying we sleep in the dark. But what if the dark comes and we still can’t close our eyes? Just look at The Insomniacs.

When Mika’s mother gets a job twelve time zones away, her family is stricken with a spectacular case of jet lag–ship lag, actually. They just can’t get used to the new schedule, and spend their days dozing through school and work. They try every remedy, but nothing works. Fortunately, the answer might be right outside their window.

The Coraline-like illustrations are suitably dark, but still fairly easy to see; the wan Insomniacs are moonlit. Their faces are enough to make me yawn. The impact of time and distance is starkly illustrated by a globe with one hemisphere dark, and other important moments are set off by insets. The pictures tell the story most, almost like the time lapse that occurs when you’re trying to sleep and can’t. Ultimately, the way the Insomniacs approach their situation can remind us that sleep is pragmatic–sometimes, the best way to fall asleep is not to try so hard.

With its expressive use of darkness and surprising matter of fact resolution, The Insomniacs is a decent bedtime story for people who can’t sleep–at least not at night.

Related reading:

Little Owl’s Night: describes an owl’s busy night with big-eyed illustrations.

While You Are Sleeping: describes day and night in different time zones.

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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