THE NIGHT BOOK by Mark Strand, pictures by William Pene du Bois (Clarkson N. Potter: $9.95; 24 pp.; ages 3-6). Most children at some time or another suffer from night terror and are comforted only by a reassuring parent, a light or tales about other kids with the same fear. The simpler the tale, the better, as in this lovely goodnighter about a little girl who's so afraid of the dark, her dog Sunshine stands monster guard by her window.
Strand, whose fiction and poems appear regularly in The New Yorker, shares a cheerful, brief story with the luxurious paintings of Pene du Bois. The moon here is a gentle old soul who sends down a beam to show the girl all the wondrous nocturnal sights and creatures that roam through this seacoast setting.
One of the most delightful pictures is spread across the title pages, bordered in midnight blue, and showing a porch overlooking a peaceful harbor. Moored sailboats rest on a calm sea under a sky jeweled with stars and moon, all done in rich night colors by the artist who received Caldecott honors for his "Bear Party" (1952) and "Lion" (1957). Du Bois also won--twice--The New York Times award for Best Illustrated Children's Book of the Year, as well as the 1948 Newberry Medal for "The Twenty-One Balloons." He succeeds here as well with comforting, dreamy images certain to chase away the goblins.