Joyce Sidman won a Newbery Honor for her Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and two other books, Red Sings from Treetops and Song of the Water Boatman, were Caldecott Honor Books. Beth Krommes, the illustrator of this book, is the Caldecott-winning artist of The House in the Night. Their collaboration for Before Morning brings a child's wish to life. In the afterword, Sidman describes it as an invocation:
"How powerful are words? . . . This book is written in the form of an invocation – a poem that invites something to happen, often asking for help or support. Humans have been using invocations for thousands of years, to soothe the body and strengthen the soul. Do they work? Maybe. Maybe speaking something out loud is the first step toward making it happen."
Here is a great way to introduce a child to the idea of invocations. Ask: "What do you wish for?" Then page through the book. We see a family coming home for the night, having dinner, preparing for bed. Then as they "slumber unknowing," the wishes begin: "Let the sky fill with flurry [images of snow] and flight [migrating geese], the earth turn to sugar [snow covers the streets and gardens]." The wishes continue: "Let urgent plans founder . . . Please – just this once – change the world before morning . . . make it slow and delightful and white."
Follow up your reading by speaking your wishes out loud.