This book, with text by Peter F. Neumeyer and illustrations by Edward Gorey, ends in a way that’s not very satisfying to me, but still manages to be pretty pleasing overall. The art and design are really great: the book sticks to a color palette of black, white, and orange, and makes a lot of use of black backgrounds and negative space, with Gorey’s crosshatched drawings looking lovely whether they’re white on black or black on white. The story is really more of a premise/question: it opens with four young siblings stumbling in the dark, wondering “What happened to the light?” The kids’ speculations as to what might have happened are the best thing about the book: they wonder things like: “Did the ink spill? Did our eyes burst?” “I know, we’re underwater,” says one page. “Aren’t we born yet?” says the following. (This is a great spread: on the right-hand page there’s a Victorian-era couple in a rowboat, dad in straw boater, bowtie, and striped suit; mom in a big flowered hat and a flowing dress, and on the left-hand page are the kids, underwater, standing beneath the black surface, below the wavelets.) I also love the orange spread of an ornately tasseled curtain, with the family cat making an appearance in its folds, and the text of “Did the curtain drop? Is the world finished?” After all this speculation, the oldest child explains how the earth’s rotation causes day and night, but his siblings aren’t entirely satisfied with that answer and come up with another they prefer.

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