All Ears, All Eyes

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
All Ears, All Eyes Book Poster Image
Poetic ode to animals in the night woods great for bedtime.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Identification of various animals and the sounds they make. Distinguishing hidden shapes and forms. Introduction to poetic language.

Positive messages

The night is full of wonder, not frightening. Animals live full lives among us, and have their own habits and routines. Respect for the natural world.

Positive role models & representations
Violence & scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson (In Plain Sight) illustrated by Katherine Tillotson, is a dreamy, poetic book about animals in the night woods. Some passages rhyme and some don't, but all are poetic, incorporating animal sounds to recreate the hushed moodiness of night. Because the animals in the art are partially hidden in the dark woods, there's a search-and-find element as well. Capped with a suggestion for the reader to sail to sleep, this makes a lovely bedtime choice.

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What's the story?

ALL EARS, ALL EYES starts out "in the dim-dimming woods" when "an owl hoots." The reader strains to see the purplish owl near hidden in the purple leaves of the tree. As the woods darken, readers can search for more animals "as light falls and night rises." Animals to search for include bats, flying squirrels, a fox, chipmunks, and fireflies moving swiftly and stealthily in the night. One moody spread reveals a cat, just a shadow. The end pages pull back the focus to show the breadth of the woods, which "sails us all to sleep."

Is it any good?

Kids will be all ears and eyes as they're read aloud this poetic book about animals slipping stealthily through the night woods. All Ears, All Eyes transports readers to that dusky, darkening hour when sight dims and we strain to see animals who are awake and moving about. Throughout, the language is elevated and poetic. Some passages may be easier for kids to grasp than others. Some very catchy ones are short and sweet, for instance, "Vole hole," "Deer here," and "What scoots between roots?" Others might initially be a little more slippery, but will gain meaning on rereadings, for instance, "Nature's ark glows, gathers tiny and tall, splendid and small."

Readers' eyes will adjust to the dusky, indistinct forms disguised in Katherine Tillotson's clever art as they would to the dim light of dusk and growing darkness. And the suggestion of sleep at the end is a perfect cap to the experience, in this dreamy book that feels as magical as a darkening day.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animals living in the woods in All Ears, All Eyes. How many can you spot?


  • Why is it hard to see the animals? Would it be easier in the day? Do animals have ways of blending into their surroundings in daytime, too?


  • If you take a walk at night, are shapes and shadows as dim as they are in the pictures? What different techniques does the artist use to make the animals blend in?


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