Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Night Worker

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Kate Banks, author of today’s picture book, is a brilliant woman of depth, integrity and sensitivity, which comes across in her writing. She has written for children with great success for many, many years and is working on a very fascinating non-fiction book for adults and YA at the moment. Kate and her Italian husband live very locally to me, so I have had the privilege of getting to know her, and did a stimulating interview with her last year, which you can read here. I have already reviewed several of her books on this blog, but chose today’s with boys and educators in mind, for Perfect Picture Book Friday.

The Night Worker

Written by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben

Published by Farrar, Strauss, Geroux -2000

Age: 3-5

Themes: Construction workers, night, fathers & sons.


Night falls. Bedtime comes.                                                                                              Papa kisses Alex good night. Then he puts on his hard hat.                                                He is an engineer. And he is a night worker.                                                                    “Take me with you,” whispers Alex.                                                                                   “Not tonight,” says Papa.

But one night Papa does indeed take Alex with him to work. On their way they pass others who work at night, like the police and street sweepers. They arrive at the construction site and together they watch the various machines and employees at work: the foreman, bulldozer, excavator, cement mixer, crane, loader… here it becomes really exciting as Alex is aloud up into the cab with the loader’s driver and gets to push the levers – Alex is a night worker too! After a night of excitement, Alex pulls off his hard hat and puts on his pajamas drifting quickly into daytime sleep dreaming of being a night worker!

Why I like this book: Georg Hallensleben has illustrated several of Kate’s books and it is a great collaborative team. He uses warm, melting, subtle night tones which marry so well with Kate’s lyrical text to create a welcoming milieu despite the dark of the night and noise and harshness of the machinery. Children will be readily engaged in this night time activity and it is a super introduction to the many workers who travail while we are asleep. Children who love construction sites will be in their element reading and watching the distinct tasks of each machine. I love how a bulldozer’s task becomes poetry in Kate’s mouth:

He points to a bulldozer leveling the ground.                                                                Clouds rise from the dust as a steel shovel                                                                      pushes soil into a midnight mountain.

Resources/Activities: I didn’t find any specific resources for this book, but suggest the following:

Construction site coloring pages.

Brainstorming night jobs and art lesson based on this.

If child/ren possess construction toys they can reenact the story, having made their own hard hats to wear beforehand, of course!

To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.  Or click on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays  badge in the right sidebar.

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29 Responses to Perfect Picture Book Friday – The Night Worker

  1. Erik This Kid Reivews Books says:

    I HAVE to get this book! My Dad is a heavy equipment operator and I like it when my mom takes us to watch him work. He does sometimes work at night but I never saw him at night, only in the day. It’s a neat idea to write a book about all the jobs that happen at night!

  2. As I read the synopsis, I tried to think of all the night workers. Hospitals are full of people working through the night. News operations often work through the night, too. I’ll have to check this one out.

  3. Heather says:

    The art on the cover is so rich and saturated, I love it! This is a great idea for a book, the night shift isn’t something that most people think about. Thank you!

  4. This book looks like something a lot of boys I know would love! I love books that introduce lesser known things, like jobs people do at night. This looks like a great one, Joanna. Thanks so much for adding it to our list!

  5. Grand — another book for boys. This is a great story that little boys would dream about — being like Dad. I love Kate Banks books! Her books are so expressive! Enjoyed reading your interview with her again. Great choice!

  6. What a great find, Joanna. I think my boys would love this construction site story, especially since it takes place while they are sleeping.

  7. Amy Dixon says:

    This is a clever idea. My girls’ best friends’ Mom is a nurse who works the night shift and they often wonder about people that work at night. Great find!

  8. What a wonderful choice Joanna. Never thought about the night shift….. mmm excellent idea. Loved the illustration. Thanks for sharing and perfect for PPBF.

  9. The boys in my class would love this book! Thanks for sharing.

    Grade ONEderful

  10. What a great idea for a book — completely unique. A great addition to PPBF. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Joanna…beautiful selection!
    I don’t know that I have ever seen a picture book that addresses the topic of parents who work at night…but such a good idea because there are many of them that do.
    I love the first few lines…they really invite me into the book. 🙂

  12. Hi Joanna, with March being Women’s month, we rarely see books such as this in the kidlitosphere, so while I love girl-power-themed books (we have it as our bimonthly theme after all), this came as a much welcome relief! We should also do a boys-theme soon! 🙂 Will check out this book, sounds lovely.

  13. Joanna says:

    I’d love to see a boys them on your blog, Myra!!

  14. Leslie Rose says:

    I am definitely passing this along to my primary grade colleagues. This is a guaranteed hit with the boys.

  15. This looks excellent, Joanna! The text that you’ve quoted is so lyrical, which one doesn’t expect with a book about bulldozers and heavy equipment, but which is so appropriate for the night-time theme. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  16. Excellent choice! The text is beautiful. And I love this theme. I am a firm believer that boys need more books. This is a great one for them. Thank you for sharing. I really want this. It seems like a great book for picture book authors to have around the office. 🙂

  17. The opening lines of this story gave me chills! What an amazing book to share with my students-many have parents who are night workers. What an adventure for Alex to accompany his father to work! I love the sound of this book, and I also like the style of the illustrations. Thanks for sharing, Joanna 🙂

  18. I am just now getting to read last week’s PPBF list along with this week’s list. I will have a doubly long list for the library this week.

    The language and illustrations are calling me! I must check and see if our library has this one. Thanks for adding it to the list!

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