Whitney’s Tale of a Girl’s First Overnight Adventure

Henrietta's Nightlight sensitively addresses a child’s very real fears

“This will be an adventure, Henrietta. I’ll be back for you tomorrow, and you can tell me about all the new things you’ve done.” So says Henrietta’s mother encouragingly as she prepares to leave Henrietta (and her beloved doll, Gwendolyn) for their first overnight visit at her grandparents’ cottage.

Henrietta tries to think about all the things she loves about the cottage, the great blue heron Grampa has said she might see there and the brave explorers who venture off into the great unknown. She has a wonderful day with Gramma Lucie and Grampa Henry, canoeing on the pond, savouring an evening walk on the trail and listening to Grampa play his guitar until she is too sleepy to stay awake.

Then she and Gwendolyn lie alone in the dark, listening to all the frightening noises. Thankfully, Gramma has just the answer. Soon Henrietta is waking up to sunlight, the smell of breakfast cooking and a wonderful morning surprise down in the meadow.

This gentle tale of a young girl’s first overnight adventure away from home sensitively addresses a child’s very real fears. Henrietta is encouraged to make up her mind to be courageous, just like world-famous explorers do when they face new situations. But ultimately her grandmother understands and respects her fear and provides the perfect solution in the form of a very special nightlight.

Henrietta’s Nightlight also beautifully depicts all the wonders of Henrietta’s day at the cottage: her canoe trip with Gramma Lucie, where they encounter a wonderful assortment of birds, and all the exquisite flowers and plants she and Grampa Henry discover on their twilight ramble. The story and its soft coloured-pencil illustrations work beautifully together to capture a strong sense of warmth and familial love as everyone strives to help Henrietta achieve this milestone. It is a sweetly satisfying story of warm, summer nights and loving families and one little girl facing her fear.

Henrietta’s Nightlight
Alice Whitney
Chocolate River Publishing

Written By

Lisa Doucet is the co-manager of Woozles Children’s Bookstore in Halifax. She shares her passion for children’s and young adult books as our young readers editor and book reviewer.

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