Whoever first told this Yiddish folktale didn't miss a nuance of the flavor of late winter, and Linda Elovitz Marshall with the help of Maëlle Doliveux's vibrant cut-paper collages brings the story even further to life. If you've ever experienced a long winter only to find it gets about ten times worse before spring arrives, then you will understand this tale — as do the perceptive children who solve Wind's dilemma.
The story begins happily enough, with wind going about ordinary winter tasks like blowing away leaves and sculpting drifts in which children can play. Doliveux appealingly depicts Wind as a blue figure adorned with ribbons of rust, beige, buff, and gray which, naturally, blow even when Wind sits down. (We love that Wind never gets assigned a gender, but is always referred to either as "Wind" or "You.")
Problems set in when Wind tries to find a place to rest. Tapping on the windows of cozy homes to get some help only makes people pull their blankets closer. Nestling in a chimney works briefly, but then warm spring breezes chase it away. The tree can't help; it needs to take care of its roots and directs Wind to a rock, who doesn't want this cold presence, either. Marshall packs the exchanges between these various beings with plenty of exclamations that keep children's interest: Youch! Yikes! Out!
Readers will return to the pages again and again to see cats flying through the air and plates tumbling from the table as Wind grows more and more angry at these various rebuffs. Here's where Wind becomes even more fierce and unreasonable, just like about every late winter we've ever encountered.
Who can understand and help Wind? Children, of course. They know exactly what to do to provide a napping spot, and their generous guidance abounds with kindness and gratitude. Wind makes sure to return the favor, so everyone benefits.
Good Night, Wind is intended for children ages 4 - 8 and for all of us who love a fine story, especially when spring feels a bit delayed in coming.