#1199 – Recess in the Dark by Kalli Dakos & Erin Mercer



Recess in the Dark
Written by Kalli Dakos
Illustrated by Erin Mercer
DC Canada Publishing 9/1/2019
46 pages   Ages 4—7

Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Poetry
Themes: Canada, Play





I have three,
in my
and I’m heading out for recess . . .
with a flashlight.


I love to track
through fresh snow,
and leave a path
that says,
“I was here first!”
(from back cover)

Opening Lines:

A Warning for Wimpy Kids

For wimpy kids,
Recess here is stark.
It’s colder that a freezer,
wild, bleak, and dark.

Why I like this book:

I fell in love with Recess in the Dark once I saw the illustrations. I love the dark, star-filled backgrounds and the colorful parka-wearing kids who seem to pop off the page—and many may wish to, given the cold air that far up north. Then I read the poetry. I know it’s been said at least a dozen times; poetry is difficult to write correctly.  But people still attempt it, maybe because it’s a challenge. The poetry in Recess in the Dark will either bring down the wonderful illustrations or make those images soar. They soar!

The poetry is easy to read aloud. There is a singsong effect to many of them. The first is a warning to readers:  if you don’t like the cold, don’t venture to the artic north where these kids live. It is cold. For the winter months, it is also dark . . . all the time. The second poem tells readers how the sun doesn’t shine during the winter. This darkness can only make the cold feel even colder. I cannot imagine going outside in such frigid weather, but these kids do. If you can handle the cold, there are prizes for your efforts: the stars and the Northern Lights.

Other poems talk about what kids do during the cold and dark recess. They wear multiple layers from their head to their toes, enabling them enjoy hide-n-seek and sliding down icy mounds of snow, built up from the whipping wind. Unlike most schools, kids build and play in igloos and they sculpt figures out of the fallen snow.

Kids lucky enough to have story hour will enjoy hearing these poems. Middle grade kids will also enjoy Recess in the Dark. Teachers can find many related subjects to enhance the poems. (The Northern Lights, using dog sleds for travel, building igloos, and the lack of sunlight during the artic winter.) One nice added element appears in smaller print. Under the illustration, the author explains things many kids may not understand, if they don’t live in frigid northern Canada.

Recess in the Dark is a fun read, it is informative, and it will have kids wondering what it would be like to go to school, and recess, completely in the dark. But when summer arrives, there are no dark skies. The sun shines twenty-four hours a day. Now, that I would like. Maybe a sequel will tell us about life in the light of day, even at night.

Favorite Lines:

From The Northern Lights, verses 2 and 3.

The colours stream
in blues and greens
with blazing, golden rays.
They light the night
with wild light
cross the Milky Way.

We cannot run,
we cannot play,
we cannot even speak.
In a daze,
we just gaze
until our legs go weak.

Recess in the Dark. Copyright © 2019 by Kalli Dakos. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Erin Mercer. Published by DC Canada Publishing, Ontario, Canada.

Available at Amazon and DC Canada Publishing

Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved


4 thoughts on “#1199 – Recess in the Dark by Kalli Dakos & Erin Mercer

  1. This sounds like a beautiful book about what it’s like to live in Alaska during the winter — have only been there in the summer and fall. The story has a lovely rhythm to it and the illustrations look amazing. Good gift book!


    • The illustrations were why I accepted the book. They took my breathe away. The poems are cool, also. These kids are not in Alaska, though they certainly could be. These kids are in the Arctic in Canada, way up at the top of the world.


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