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Night Job

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  137 reviews
With lyrical narration and elegant, evocative artwork, Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse and illustrator G. Brian Karas share the nighttime experience of a father and child.

When the sun sets, Dad's job as a school custodian is just beginning. What is it like to work on a Friday night while the rest of the city is asleep? There's the smell of lilacs in the night air, the dusky
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Candlewick Press (MA)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  573 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s
A tender tale of a father and son and the bond that they share. I love the evocative sights, smells and dreams. My favorite line is: "Dad hauls out a ring of keys as big as the rising moon," which reminds me of when I was very small and my father was my rock.
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kidstuff
A sweet story of a young boy who keeps his father company during Dad's job overnight as a school custodian.

As always, G. Brian Karas's artwork is a delight.

Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-book
Part of me loves this evocative story told by a child whose father works as a night custodian for a school. It's quiet, splendid, and a soul-warming snapshot of a loving parent/child relationship.

Another part of me has trouble accepting a first-person narrative from what appears to be a fairly young child using phrases like, "the dusky highway" and "the brightening bay" and "a rising swell of dreams."
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The writing in this is exquisite and the book feels like you are right there, experiencing the night and the night job Hesse and Karas document.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic look at a single father who needs to work at night and brings his son along.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Father and night requests
Recommended to June by: Edward Sullivan
A quiet story of a father taking his son to his janitorial, night job. I enjoyed the relationship of the father and son and the portrayal of the night work and job which aren't prevalent in children's picture books. Rounded up because I'm always looking for good father books.

Maybe a little much for my young group, though okay...
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A boy helps his school-custodian father during his nightly work. Hesse's text is poetic and evocative with images children will easily grasp. The depicted bond between the father and son is truly lovely and Brian Karas's gray toned illustrations have never been more perfect. Together they capture that special magic that is a school after hours and a wonderful relationship.

LOVE this quiet understated book!
Vera Godley
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely story! The text and pictures evoke a gentle lesson in loving caring, sharing, togetherness, and respect for work.

Dad takes his son to work with him on Friday evening. The story brings honor and respect to the janitorial job of Dad. Son delights in each moment shared from the motorbike ride to and from the school building to sweeping floors.

Together (Dad doesn't denigrate his young son's ability to be helpful) they begin the organized task of making clean the building.

Katie Fitzgerald
This is a nice slice of life story about a boy who goes to work at night with his janitor father. The writing is poetic and the illustrations capture the warmth and humor of the characters' relationship. The story taps into two ideas kids are fascinated by - what happens at night and what their parents do at work. Though this is a quieter book with a subdued color scheme, it appealed strongly to my almost-three-year-old and my almost-five-year-old.

This review also appears on my blog,
Hannah Jane
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: easy-fiction, buy
There's something really special about the relationship between this boy and his dad. Even though his dad is working, he's very much involved in his son's life. My favorite moment is when his dad cleans the library and the boy reads to him. Another special moment happens when they listen to the radio and clean together. Though this is a picture book with few words, it captures the strength of a beautiful bond between son and father. Plus it's a total bonus that their mode of transportation is a ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
This book offers a snapshot into the life of father and son; dad is the custodian in a school who takes his son along as he goes to work on a Friday night. The book offers a peek into the many cleaning tasks that happen during the night shift along with offering a glimpse into the beautiful relationship between the father and the son.
Sarah Richards
Aug 11, 2019 rated it liked it
As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:

Night Job is the touching story of a little boy who accompanies his dad to work the third shift, cleaning up a middle school on Friday nights. The idea of take your child to work day is a cool concept--its good for children to see how hard their parents work to provide for them, though I was surprised that the dad was able to bring his son because of liability issues, but thats another lesson for another age.

Shaye Miller
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was entranced by this "night in the life of" story about a young boy who goes with his father to his night job. There was something that felt so cozy about peeking in on these two:

On Friday nights, when the sun goes down, I snap the clips shut on Dad's lunch box and climb onto the back of his bike. We zoom over the darkening bay, riding the dusky highway.

The story engages the reader with the sounds, sights, tastes, and even the temperatures experienced during the night. I love the writing and
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me of my dad, although he never had a night job or worked as a janitor. But the strong bond between the small boy and his dad is clearly described in beautiful neutral color pictures and spare text. I love this book.
Heidi Burkhart
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A sweet and engaging story about a boy who goes with his father, by motorcycle, to his night job. The book is full of the various tasks that the father does, and what the boy does while his dad is working. It is a peaceful and calm story with illustrations that match the mood perfectly. Lovely!
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wish-list
Simple text and beautiful evocative illustrations set the mood for this story about a boy who accompanies his father to his night job of cleaning a school. Good for lower elementary; use especially for units about community helpers, Labor Day.
Destinee Sutton
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderfully poetic text. This story offers a great example of how to find beauty in everyday life. Reminds me of two of my favorite picture books: ANOTHER POND and LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET.
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Really solid realistic world-building. A warm and thoughtful book .
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-book
So tender. And with such poetic prose and illustrations that beckon the reader in like a film.
Lineth Moraga-Hernandez
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book! It discusses a family of a single father and son and opens up the idea of how different families can be. The father is a custodian and takes his son to his night shift, but what makes the night shift really special- being with dad. Students will be able to engage in conversions relating to the diverse families our community has. The book's illustrations also open up conversation as to why the colors are not vibrant, but more grey-like. As an educator, this book may be ...more
A Allen
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a unique book in that so few stories show parents working at night, few stories show parents doing custodial work, and few stories show parents working while their child(ren) are around. I helped my mom do custodial work as a child and I was interested in how the story would handle the subject. I absolutely love that Hesse tells the reader that the highway smells like fish but the school smells like lilacs! I wish this sensory engagement continued throughout the story; I wish the reader ...more
Aileen Stewart
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I particularly enjoyed this book by Karen Hesse. It is a beautiful and simple story that reminds us to think about and appreciate people who work while we sleep to make our world a cleaner and better place. It is the story of a night-time school janitor told from the pov of his son and if you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do!
Dec 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a great book about a boy and his dad and their time spent together at dad's work as school janitor on Friday nights. The muted color and language made me think of the book about the boy fishing with his dad called A Different Pond.

I do have difficulty with age of the boy on the back of a motorcycle and being able to use such evocative vocabulary to tell the story. I would not guess he would think of phrases like ---riding a watery highway on a rising swell of dreams.

Read with second
Edward Sullivan
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, labor
A poetic, evocative story about a father and son bonding over shared work.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens-books
I am always curious about the stories behind the stories. "Night Shift" certainly has an interesting one. The story goes, author Karen Hesse was part of an "City Daily Photo" group. The group would upload pictures of their cities and tell interesting stories. She bumped into an interesting post from one particular participant who posted a picture about his father. His father was at one time, a night janitor at the local high school. The poster narrated his story about his time spent with his dad ...more
Abby D
Title: Night Job
Author: Karen Hesse
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Copyright: 2018
Format/Level: Picture book

Summary: In this sweet picture book, we follow the adventures of a young boy and his father who is a janitor at a school. When his father works at night, the boy accompanies him and helps him with his tasks. He falls asleep after a while and his father wakes him up when its time to go home. The boy and his father ride his motorcycle home and then fall asleep shortly after.

Reasoning: I chose
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
On Friday nights, a little boy goes with his father to work. They leave after dark on his fathers motorcycle, head across the bridge, and enter the closed school. His father has a big ring of keys to open the door. They clean the gym first, while the little boy plays basketball. They bring a radio with them from room to room, listening to baseball games. At ten at night, they eat the lunch they brought with them. While his father cleans the library, the boy falls asleep reading on the couch. His ...more
Jaime King
This book is portrays a father and sons bond in such a beautiful way. There are not very many books abut the bond that a father shares with their child. Thats why this book holds such a special place in my heart now. It is important to shine light on a relationship between a father and a son. Another thing that I loved about this book is that it shows how hard working the father is. The father takes this night job on to provide for his family. A lot of young readers can relate to this because ...more
Colleen Dougherty
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully illustrated book showing the bond between father and son as they work together at the father's Night Job. Many families experience the need to work a night job to supplement their earnings and I love this books way of showing that it can be a shared routine where both have jobs but they do them together. This father takes his son with him on Friday nights and they work during the wee hours of the night / morning. The son helps his father by packing the lunch they'll share ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Night Job by Karen Hesse illustrated by G. Brian Karas, PICTURE BOOK Candlewick Press, 2018, $17. 763662380



Dad cleans a school from late evening to early morning, and on Fridays he brings his son along. The two listen to the radio as they clean the halls and the cafeteria, and dad continues even after the boy falls asleep. It's special time spent together - while getting the job done.

I loved the quiet tone - like the night is just
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Karen Hesse is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. Her novel Out of the Dust was the winner of the 1998 Newbery Medal and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. In 2002, Hesse was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship.

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