When Mrs. Insomniac is offered a new job twelve time zones away, she and her husband and daughter move to the other side of the world. “The Insomniacs weren’t always a night family”: the adjustment to a completely different schedule leaves them sleepy and lackluster, and they find that they can no longer stay awake during the day.
The family communes about how to solve this problem: Mika is suffering in school, Mrs. Insomniac falls asleep at work, and Father has to take naps several times a day. They all, however, seem to love being awake at night. Instead of giving up on their new life, they decide to embrace a different lifestyle. What follows is a beautiful journey into the world of their night neighbors, and the Insomniacs discover that they are not alone in going about their days in the dark. The family discovers kinship with wolves, rabbits, owls, and all other manner of nocturnal animals and plant life–and even a few humans, too.
The Insomniacs, written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts, immediately caught my attention: the illustrations are graphic, evocative, and charming. The prose is lyrically written and beautiful in its simplicity. I loved The Insomniacs because it tells a sweet and slightly whimsical tale of a family that embraces its differences. The story–with the help of dark but surprisingly-not-somber illustrations–also paints a beautiful picture of how vibrant the night can be, if one is looking for it. When I finished reading, I was left feeling the sort of melancholy happiness that I often feel when I read a good story for the first time (and after reading it a second time, I liked it even more).
I’m not the only one who found The Insomniacs unforgettable: it was on the New York Public Library’s Children’s Books 2012: 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing list, was reviewed by School Library Journal and Kirkus, and was also on the Huffington Post book gifts list this year.
If you are looking for an unconventional and memorable bedtime story, this is a wonderful choice.