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Before Morning

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,263 ratings  ·  316 reviews
There are planes to fly and buses to catch, but a child uses the power of words, in the form of an invocation, to persuade fate to bring her family a snow day — a day slow and unhurried enough to spend at home together. In a spare text that reads as pure song and illustrations of astonishingly beautiful scratchboard art, Sidman and Krommes remind us that sometimes, if spok ...more
Hardcover, 42 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published December 1st 2015)
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,263 ratings  ·  316 reviews

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Richie Partington
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picturebooks
Richie’s Picks: BEFORE MORNING by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes, ill., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2016, 48p., ISBN: 978-0-547-97917-5

“Let the air turn to feathers,
the earth turn to sugar,
and all that is heavy turn light.
Let quick things be swaddled,
let urgent plans founder,
let pathways be hidden from sight.”

As usual, I’d brought along a backpack full of newly-arrived picture books to share with my three-and-a-half year-old grandson, who has recently become a big brother. As he and I sat
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before Morning This is a lovely book, a beautiful, poetic glimpse at winter, family togetherness, and also at the power of "invocations" to bring about a desired change. The scratchboard and watercolor artwork really brings to mind both the warmth and the cold/sparseness of winter. I've really enjoyed some of Sidman's other works (Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors, Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors) as well as her previous collaboration with Krommes, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in N ...more
Before Morning is one of my absolutely favorite reads this year and I hope it wins an award. The book is absolutely beautiful. Beth Krommes and her scratchboard art are favorites of mine. I always have to get my hands on anything she illustrates. This particular story uses a minimum of words to share the heartfelt wish of a young girl whose mother is setting off for work as an airline employee. The girl, through a simply yet profoundly worded invocation, wishes for snow to keep her mother home. ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
A gorgeously illustrated ode to snow days:

Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Joyce Sidman Fans / Beth Krommes Fans / Picture-Books About Snow
Newbery Honor-winning children's poet Joyce Sidman and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Beth Krommes team up in this beautiful picture-book celebration of snow days, and the peaceful joy they bring. With a simple, poetic text, Sidman unfolds the desire of her young heroine for a world made new, covered in the transformative white beauty of snow. In her scratchboard and watercolor art, Krommes captures the enchantment that snow creates, and the family fun that results when the world is covered ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This tender and charming tale has a beautiful way of slowing you down and making you reflect on the wonder of the world around you. It is like a mediative pause in your crazy, busy life.

"Before Morning" focuses on the magic and awe of a snow day. It begins with eight pages of stunning illustrations that portray a mother and child walking home through a bustling city at twilight. As they arrive at their apartment you observe that the table is set ready for dinner, the parents are expressing hugs
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An ordinary cold winter's day, a walk through the park and along the street with mom and the dog, eating dinner as a family with mom and dad, mom reading a bedtime story, then folding the laundry before she leaves for work as an airplane pilot...But maybe, just this once, if it is said just the right way and using just the right words, a wished for snowstorm might just bring mom back home. Written in rhyme, Sidman employed the literary device of invocation for expressing the young girl's wish fo ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
First sentence: In the deep woolen dark, as we slumber unknowing, let the sky fill with flurry and flight.

Premise/plot: Before Morning is not a picture book; it is a poetic 'invocation.' A young child longing for a snow day, a family snow day--and putting all that longing into words. The text is spare--for better or worse. The illustrations tell the story. It is almost as if the text and illustrations switched jobs. The text give some shape to the story, and, they are certainly lovely, in their
Carol Scrimgeour
Take a dive, deep down into Beth Krommes' stunning illustrations to follow the characters throughout this lovely story. Every page, with or without text, provides the narrative, starting and ending witht the endpapers. We are given multiple views of clocks throughout the story to help us understand the passage of time. It lingers in your mind beyond the closing, calling you back to savor it again.
Gorgeous scratchboard and watercolor illustrations and a sparse lyrical text tell the evocative story of a child wishing for a family snow day. My favorite line "Let the air turn to feathers, the earth turn to sugar, and all that is heavy turn light." This is a powerfully haunting picture book that captures a child's deep longing for her mother, an airplane pilot, to not leave. With minimum words and plentiful visual detail like the child hiding her mother's hat or pausing in front of the bakery ...more
Edward Sullivan
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
Lovely verse and stunning illustrations.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Well, I'm not sure about this. I'm thinking about the title, and thinking that what's going on is that Mom is dropping off the little girl with grandpa, something like that.

The fact that I can't tell who's who only increases my dissatisfaction with the pictures. And in the first place, I just don't care for this medium. Especially here, as it's so gray & biege.

Ok, the poem, the invocation, is beautiful. But look at this way: goodness there are a lot of people who are having their plans messe
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a beautiful book. The illustrations are amazing. The story is very simple. At first the reader thinks it’s a wordless picture book, but its a few pages in before the words appear. However this book is so well illustrated that the words are not needed. They are almost a hindrance. They are nice, but this book could have remained wordless.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
The text is simple but demonstrates the power of hoping, wishing and words. A young girl wishes for more time with her family, a slower pace. That wish is granted as a snow storm settles over their town and cancels flights. The illustrations are really, really lovely!
Kris Dersch
This is lovely! I love the illustrations, I love the non-annoying rhyme scheme, the fantasy elements, the story-within-a-story when you realize what a snow day means for this family, and the author's note about what an invocation is and does. Great book!
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ohhhhh, this book is so lovely. I found myself blinking away happy tears at the end. The illustrations and the quiet, hopeful text match up perfectly. I can't wait until my kiddo is old enough to share this with him at bedtime.
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful invocation with lovely description of invocations at the end. Illustrations you want to sink your teeth into.
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
So beautiful! Let it be winter already!
Nov 13, 2018 rated it liked it
A book that kids will need to pay extra special attention to the pictures and the words to realize what is happening. Kids will enjoy this one before a snowstorm. I liked the note at the end explaining the style.
Alice Ball
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Captures the sheer delight of that surprise snow that cancels everything in the world and allows you and your family to just be tucked away, moving slowly together. For lovers of SNOW days!
Carrie Charley Brown
Want to be mesmerized by the environment and how weather changes it, yet keep the warmth of family at heart? This books has it all!
Lynn  Davidson
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A child wishes for her family to be snowed in so her mother doesn't have to go to work before morning. The lovely illustrations and few words show what happens that wondrous winter night.
Virginia McGee Butler
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Not only am I making sure November does not end without my taking note of picture book month, I am invoking my oldest child personality and telling you how to read my newest treasure in this genre.

Having fallen in love with the author/illustrator team of Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes in Swirl by Swirl, I didn’t even need to see the great reviews to know I had to have their newest book, Before Morning. I bought it for myself, but as you can see, I’m willing to share.

The illustrations by themsel
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
Days are busy, filled with activity. One child whose parent is heading off to pilot a plane in the early morning put her wishes into words in the form on an invocation. She asks for snow to come, to change the face of the city and the pace of their life. She wishes for a slowness and as the book continues readers will see the snow start to fall, the parent leave for the airport, then the airport start to fill with waiting passengers who are not going anywhere. Then the parent catches a snowplow ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, clear, clear-group
Before Morning, as Joyce Sidman points out, is an invocation - a poem that invites something to happen. In this case, a young girl invites the snow to start falling so that her mom, a pilot, doesn't have to go to work and leave. The poem, itself, is deceptively simple, yet full of lovely words and imagery ("in the deep woolen dark", "the earth turn to sugar"). Krommes' signature scratchboard and watercolor illustrations do most of the actual storytelling - from the opening endpapers which show a ...more
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing

You are ready with all appropriate preparations completed. Taking no chances you decide to wear your lucky jewelry, favorite underwear, shoes, socks, pants and sweater all day. You have placed logic aside letting superstitions rule the day. That night you wait for the first star and make a wish. You put on your pajamas inside out and backward. You slip a spoon under your pillow. As you try to fall asleep you sincerely desire, for the eleventy-hundredth time, the skills of Dumbledore.

We attribut
I just bought this book, and I am so pleased that I did. I don’t know how much to share because it is a beautiful surprise of a story. The poem in rhyme by Joyce Sidman trails through the story, about a night when a mother arrives home, sits with the children for a while, and then you see her getting ready to go again, off to the airport. She appears to be a pilot. You’ll need to read the book to discover what happens next. The scratchboard and watercolor illustrations by Beth Kromme are exquis ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stunning, soft, scratchboard and watercolor illustrations filled with cozy details pulled me in to this story of a young girl wishing for a snow day and some extra family time. The invocation is spare and lovely which allows the details of the pictures to shine. Readers who take the time to explore will find rewards like all the toy airplanes spread throughout the home showing how the little girl idolizes her pilot mother. It's nice to see something other than a single-family home featured in a ...more
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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The Newbery Honor winner Joyce Sidman is today's foremost nature poet for children. Accolades for her books include two Caldecott Honors, a Lee Bennet Hopkins Award, winner of the Claudia Lews Award, and many stars and best of lists. For her award-winning body of work, she won the Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She lives in Wayzata, Minnesota. Visit
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