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Children's Fiction Country Life

Singing Away the Dark

by (author) Caroline Woodward

illustrated by Julie Morstad

Simply Read Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2017
Country Life
Recommended Age
4 to 8
Recommended Grade
p to 3
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2011
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Now available in a new, jacketed, large format special edition! On a dark winter’s morning a little girl has to trudge a mile to catch the school bus. Will she be able to sing her way through the shadows? Lilting rhyming text by Caroline Woodward and stunning paintings by multiple award-winning illustrator Julie Morstad herald an era when singing away the dark was part of a six-year-old’s rural school-going routine.

The original edition of Singing Away the Dark (Simply Read Books, 2010) was a finalist for the 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Prize, the 2010-2011 Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, the 2011 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award (Picture Book category), and the 2011-2012 Chocolate Lily Award (Picture Book category). It was also a 2012 Best Books for Kids and Teens selection by the Canadian Children's Book Centre.

About the authors

Caroline Woodward lives, works and writes on the Lennard Island Lightstation near Tofino, British Columbia. Prior to her career as a lighthouse keeper she worked in almost every aspect of the literary world from book-reviewer to book-seller and most points on either side and in between. She was raised on a homestead in the north Peace River region of B.C. and has studied, worked and travelled widely ever since. She is the author of five books including Disturbing the Peace (Polestar, 1990), nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and Alaska Highway Two-Step (Polestar, 1993), nominated for the Arthur Ellis Best First Mystery Award.

Caroline Woodward's profile page

 span lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">Julie Morstadspan lang="EN-US" style="font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language:EN-US;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA"> is an author, illustrator and artist living in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Her most recent book for children, How To, marks her authorial debut, and has received starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal and Quill & Quire, as well as a Governor General's award nomination. Books she has illustrated for children include When You Were Small, recipient of the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award; When I Was Small, winner of the Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize; and Singing Away the Dark, which was shortlisted for a number of children's literature prizes.


Julie Morstad's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Singing Away the Dark

In this story, the six-year-old protagonist likes school very much. She is, however, very afraid of walking the mile-long route through the wintry countryside in order to meet her school bus. Each weekday morning she leaves the warmth and security of home, only to enter the mysterious pre-dawn darkness of the rural landscape. It is only when this little soul begins to sing out loud that the darkness seems to evaporate. The act of singing gives her courage as she presses on through snowy fields and forests. “I sing for sun, I sing for strength, | I sing for warm toes, too. / I am so happy when I see / two headlights blaze in view.” Victory is in sight! All is well as she climbs aboard the school bus, ready to begin a new school day.

Caroline Woodward has written a compelling account in verse form about a courageous child attempting to overcome her fears the only way she knows how — through singing. The opening verse sets a bucolic scene: “When I was six and went to school, / I walked a long, long way... / I leave my house so nice and warm, / on a windy winter’s day.” However, Woodward gradually builds suspense as this girl passes by shadows and hears “...creaks and groans, and hoots and howls.” The countryside has been transformed into a sinister and foreboding environment. One feels great relief when she is enveloped into the safety of the school bus.

Julie Morstad’s striking ink, gouache and pencil artwork is captivating in its simplicity. The heroine is a picture of sweetness and innocence in her winterwear as she battles both the weather and her fear of the dark. The furtive shadows, the crisp whiteness of the snow, the hidden forest wildlife, and the gradual lightening of the teal sky as time moves forward are beautifully illustrated. We feel as if we are silent witnesses to wilderness secrets.

As an insightful exploration into inner bravery, Singing Away the Dark will resonate with readers of all ages.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2011. Volume 34 No. 2.

Singing Away the Dark

Written in rhyming verse, this whimsically illustrated story tells the tale of a little girl who has to trudge a mile through the snow to catch the school bus. Will she be able to sing her way through the shadows on this dark winter morning? A finalist for the 2011 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

Other titles by Caroline Woodward

Other titles by Julie Morstad

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