Lilah Tov Good Night by Ben Gundersheimer

Do you remember my review of Señorita Mariposa by Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G)? We loved that bilingual gem, so when Mister G reached out to see if I’d be interested in reading his latest picture book, Lilah Tov Good Night (illustrated by Noar Lee Naggan), I eagerly said yes. Though Lilah Tov Good Night has a completely different feel than Señorita Mariposa, I knew upon the first read that this would be a story I’d definitely want to share. Read on to see what makes Lilah Tov Good Night an important read for a wide range of children.

Though the text is simple, the storyline is anything but and is largely told through the illustrations. Lilah Tov Good Night opens at the end of “a long and beautiful day,” with a vibrant young girl dressed in clothing of the late 19th/early 20th century running towards her waving mother. As the family sits down for dinner, the illustrations provide more insight into their lives through the bare-bones cabin and the menorah in the window. As the family packs up their belongings, the girl begins to say “lilah tov” (Hebrew for “good night”) to the natural wonders she sees around them, from the hens in the henhouse to the beaches and the waves. And it is at that point where readers understand exactly what’s happening, as the family climbs into a boat on a deserted beach, when the moon is high in the sky. When the long journey ends, the family stands outside of a well-lit cabin with a fire in the fireplace, “ready for dreams.”

Yes, Lilah Tov Good Night greatly simplifies the journeys that many refugees actually experience, but Gundersheimer has done a beautiful job of creating an age-appropriate window for young children to begin to understand what these experiences may be like. Full of peace and hope, Lilah Tov Good Night is both a beautiful bedtime story and an important conversation starter about the refugee experience. Gundersheimer’s own grandparents crossed the ocean as refugees looking for a better life, and his personal connection can be felt through the pages of this book.

Publishers target ages 3-5, but adult-led conversations about the apparent historical period and refugee experiences would make this book appropriate for older audiences as well. A big thank you to Mister G and Penguin Young Readers for sharing this book with our family in exchange for an honest review.

If you’re interested in purchasing Lilah Tov Good Night, feel free to use my links below (Amazon and IndieBound are affiliate links). All other links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links.

If you’re interested in other picture books about refugee experiences, you might also like:

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