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Children's Fiction Bedtime & Dreams

Stormy Night

illustrated by Michele Lemieux

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Sep 1999
Bedtime & Dreams
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 1999
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


As a storm rages outside the window, a young girl lies awake at night, her head buzzing with questions: Who am I? Where did we come from? What happens when you die? No answers are provided in Stormy Night. Rather, the questions prompt readers to explore their own place in the world. Winner of the prestigious Bologna Ragazzi Award, this intriguing book provides parents and educators with a springboard for discussions on life's questions. With imaginative drawings and simple but thought-provoking text, Stormy Night is the perfect place for children, regardless of age, cultural background or religion, to start looking for their own answers to all the really important questions.

About the author

David Booth is a university professor, author and anthologist of more than thirty books. His lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Michele Lemieux's profile page


  • Winner, Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Canadian Picture Book Award
  • Winner, Bologna Ragazzi Award , Bologna Book Fair
  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Award
  • Short-listed, Ruth Schwartz Children’s Book Award

Editorial Reviews

Philosophical ...

Stormy Night, by Michele Lemieux, is a brilliant meditation on the questions that we all face from time to time - Who am I? Where did I come from? What does life mean?

Here is a fresh and intriguing book that should have appeal for a wide age group. As a storm rages outside, small ink drawings introduce a girl and her dog. The girl can’t sleep because her mind is buzzing with so many questions. The rest of the book poses those questions and some of the girl’s other thoughts as it lets the reader ponder their own hopes, dreams and fears. Some of the questions are big: What is fate? Will the world come to an end someday? Others are more personal: Will I have children? Do I have an imagination? As the girl twists and turns (and sometimes hides under her blanket) during the stormy, sleepless night, other thoughts arise: I’m scared of being abandoned. I’m afraid no one will love me. But as the dawn breaks, and the girl finds she’s hungry, an optimistic atmosphere prevails, and the child finally sleeps, with the sun shining outside. A clever yet thoughtful design is highlighted by Lemieux’s exquisitely inventive drawings. If this was just a book raising philosophical questions, it would still probably be worth purchasing. But Lemieux’s ink drawings, which adapt and heighten every reflection, are what takes the book to a new level. The question, “Will I always be able to avoid pitfalls?” shows a man walking over pitfalls with snakes, hot coals, and other nasties. The girl’s comment that she fears being separated from everyone she loves is illustrated by a chocolate cake with one slice being taken away on a plate, with a girl topping the cake like a cherry. Each picture provokes as many thoughts as the text. Obviously, there will be many, many uses for this book: as a source of discussion, a jumping-off point for the art and essays, and maybe most importantly, for kids to read alone in their own quiet moments.

Another thought-provoking book is Stormy Night, a remarkably deep yet simple book from Montreal artist Michèle Lemieux that is appropriate for children — and adults — of all ages. The book’s premise is built around a young girl who has gone to bed but cannot sleep. Fears such as “I’m scared of being abandoned” and questions like “What exactly is fate?” flood her mind and onto the pages of Lemieux’s book, where they appear alongside stark yet complex black-and-white line drawings. Each pair of pages is intended to start discussions about such questions as the meaning of life and the existence of God. But keep in mind that this prize-winning book — only asks the questions; it’s up to each parent to provide the answers. Good luck.

While this unusually long picture book provides no answers to the many queries posed by a young girl who can’t sleep because “Too many questions are buzzing through my head,” readers may find solace in knowing that they are not the only ones who struggle with these issues. There is no story here; it’s simply a catalog of questions and fears ranging from typical concerns about appearance to fears of abandonment, war, robbers; to universal enigmas such as “Will the world come to an end someday?”, “Are things better after death than in life?”, “And hell — does it really exist?” The black-and-white line drawings are appropriately small and surrounded by ample white space, reflecting the young person’s feelings of inadequacy in the face of such vast mysteries. They reveal her restlessness as she hides under the covers or under the bed, curls up on the rug, and seeks the comfort of her dog. Often the drawings are as provocative as the questions they depict — Dark double-page spreads illustrating the stormy night of the title punctuate the text and mirror the storm raging in the young girl’s mind. This inventory of mind-bending mysteries may provide an outlet for adolescents unable to formulate their concerns and could serve as a jumping-off point for discussions at home or in the classroom.

Stormy Night is a brave book, one that recognizes young people can also be plagued by the unanswerable mysteries of our universe.

A witty, thought-provoking book.

Lightning bolts and existential dilemmas keep a girl awake in this unusual volume, which resembles a compact, thick sketchbook filled with line drawings. The tidy, surreal imagery is strictly black-on-white and recalls the likes of the Dali and De Chirico as often as the looser, more accessible line of de Saint-Exupéry. Brief sentences (“Is there only one of me in the world?”) accompany minimalist pictures of the speaker sitting in bed or exchanging concerned glances with her dog, providing launching points for a series of thematic questions (“Sometimes I feel like I don’t fit in my body!/ Imagine if we could switch bodies ...”). Figures from the girl’s imagination convey uncertainty laced with dry humor. A face appears in the center of a labyrinth alongside a plaintive “Sometimes I feel completely lost!” Wordless spreads dramatize the silences between epiphanies. Sometimes, extravagantly blank white pages bring the shock of utter emptiness, while contrasting ink-wash spreads show the girl’s small house in a rainy landscape of gray hills and wind-lashed poplar trees. The storm and the anxieties last all night (“Will I know when it’s time to die? Will it hurt?”), but with sunrise comes optimism. Lemieux’s (What’s That Noise?) evocative images and statements work singly, but together they bear cumulative weight and offer reassurance that such questions are universal.

Highly recommended.

Other titles by Michele Lemieux