FLASHLIGHT NIGHT: shining picture book

Hello flashlight fans! Poetry Friday is beamed out from READING YEAR/A Year of Reading.

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FLASHLIGHT NIGHT
by Matt Forrest Esenwine with artwork from Fred Koehler

As a fan of the world’s most gargantuan flashlights – lighthouses –
I carry a torch for creative stories
where flashlights are woven into the action.
So it is not surprising that I am all aglow to
open a new picture book with you – FLASHLIGHT NIGHT.

The text by Matt Forrest Esenwine is a poem story alive with the promise
of high adventure unfolding in the sedate backyard.

Shines a path where waters rush
reveals a hole in the underbrush

The illustrations by Fred Koehler are a nocturne gallery, with the nightshade from
scene to scene heightening the child’s delight in overlooked but important clues,
to go back and look at up close, as soon as the book is first read. This is a read again & again trek into the make-believe unknown, undertaken by three children, a girl and two boys.

To celebrate publication, the two creators agreed to tell me something about their childhoods.

MATT FORREST ESENWINE
“Hi, thank you for doing a post, Jan! I really appreciate that.”

(The book deserves a lot of spotlight, Matt.- jga)

“Growing up in rural New Hampshire, I developed an appreciation for nature from a young age. We lived on 10 acres of mostly wooded property, and although I was not allowed to go deep into the woods, the woods were all around me and therefore afforded me a great opportunity to use my imagination.

I never had a treehouse as a child, but I did have something I called my “hideout”, which was an area just off of our lawn that consisted of lots of large, flat stones, thick juniper bushes, and a couple of large, easily-climbed trees. Some days I would pretend I was a bad guy hiding from the law, while other days I was the good guy trying to track down the baddies.

My hideout was also my “secret” place to have lunch. Mom would give me my food and I would head out to one of the flat rocks there and eat underneath the tree. And even though this little area was right along the edge of the lawn and only 15 feet or so away from the road, I felt like I was in my own little world!

I suppose it is no wonder, then, that the natural world and my sense of family have played such crucial roles in my writing, both for adults as well as for children. I am fortunate that dad has not sold the place yet – at 82, he still lives on that same old dirt road surrounded by woods – but I know that a not-so-little piece of me will be lost the day he does.”

(This paints an evocative picture, Matt. Thank you! – jga)

I first encountered Matt’s work via the Poetry Friday/Today’s Little Ditty crowd, where I am happily surprised to find that we have just appeared in an anthology together.
Now I anticipate Matt’s poems in many forthcoming books.
Please visit him here.

C. Copyright illustration,
FRED KOEHLER
C. text,
MATT FORREST ESENWINE

FRED KOEHLER
“When I was a kid, our house backed up to an acre or two of Florida scrub. Through the woods I had neighbors whose dad worked construction and brought home all the scraps of job site lumber. In those trees, we would build the most elaborate fort systems, with tight ropes lines between the trees, trap doors, and even underground bunkers. We had more fun than any other kids on the planet, and probably could fend off pirates better than the Swiss Family Robinson.”

(I see the foundations of an artist’s mind in those constructions, Fred.
Thank you! – jag)

For more about this exceptional artist, whose work I first encountered in the hilarious, minimalist-word Rebecca Kai Dotlich story, ONE DAY, THE END
& now anticipate next year in Fred’s Pacific garbage patch-set debut novel,
please visit his site & online gallery.
Also, travel along as KidLitTV reveals, via a talk with Rocco Staino, how Fred helped develop this book’s evocative nightscape.

I ordered FLASHLIGHT NIIGHT from my local indy, Midtown Reader.

My hideout (Robyn & Laura, appreciations for sharing yours) memories include
the fairy woods on one side of us in the 1st house & the creek ravine woods
behind the 2nd house.

C. illustration,
FRED KOEHLER
C. text
Matt Forrest Esenwine

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