The Midnight Fair

by Gideon Sterer (Author) Mariachiara Di Giorgio (Illustrator)

The Midnight Fair
Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

As darkness falls on the fairgrounds, the animals venture out of the woods for one magical, memorable night! An exhilarating wordless picture book.

Far from the city, but not quite the countryside, lies a fairground. When night comes and the fair is empty, something unexpected happens. Wild animals emerge from the forest, a brave raccoon pulls a lever, and the roller coasters and rides explode back into bright, neon life. It's time for the woodland creatures to head to the fair! In a gorgeous wordless picture book, author Gideon Sterer and illustrator Mariachiara Di Giorgio offer an exuberant take on what animals are up to when humans are asleep. Suffused with color and light, the panel illustrations celebrate the inherent humor and joy in deer flying by on chair-swings, a bear winning a stuffed bear, three weasels carrying a soft pretzel, and a badger driving a bumper car.

With thrills both spectacular and subtle, Midnight Fair will have readers punching their tickets again and again to revel in this fantastic nocturnal world.

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$15.29 $16.99

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

Animals whirl in teacups, ride the roller coaster under the moon, and leave at dawn, tired, happy, and a bit sticky. The wolf, at the edge of a lake, releases a goldfish won at the ring-toss booth. Gorgeously whimsical and utterly convincing.


Starred Review
When the traveling carnival arrives and sets up near the wood, curious animals rejoice. . .The vibrancy of the watercolor, colored pencils, and gouache illustrations sing in full-color pages and panels and multiple perspectives. This splendid story needs no words: gorgeous landscapes celebrate nature's beauty, while luminous renderings of the carnival depict magical moments. Children will savor this glorious, wordless night to remember.

Horn Book Magazine

Starred Review
Forest creatures emerge from the shadows to have their own nighttime fun at the county fairgrounds in this wordless and wondrous picture book. . .Cinematic visuals include moments of humor as creatures are shown stuffing their faces with snacks, playing games, and covering their eyes on rides. The glowing watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations are atmospheric and brilliantly rendered through lush washes of color and intriguing contrasts of dark and light, illuminating the setting and depicting an engaging tension between the wildness of the animals and the humanness of their behaviors and activities as fairgoers.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Captivating spreads by Di Giorgio (Professional Crocodile) tell a wordless story about a night of magic for a forest's animal denizens. Golden eyes glow in the dark as the last human closes up a pop-up county fairground and heads out. When he's gone, two enterprising raccoons throw the big power lever back on, and the animals stream in through a fence opening. Painting from close up, Di Giorgio creates the sense that viewers are part of the crowd, and bathes every spread in brilliant, theatrical light. Animals large and small ride the swings, the roller coaster, and the carousel, paying for their tickets with forest currency: blackberries, acorns, and pinecones. A wolf tosses a ring and wins a goldfish, and a hedgehog waddles by, quills studded with treats. Sterer (From Ed's to Ned's) imagines candid moments as a fox parent reclines in a spinning teacup while its kit holds on to the rim with rapt attention. Morning comes, and with it, a quiet, hurried retreat. Watching a whole forest full of creatures encounter the fair delivers a sheaf of unexpected delights--especially when they take pleasure in all the same things their human counterparts do. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

In Mariachiara Di Giorgio's beautiful and atmospheric paintings, wild creatures watch a grassy fairground from a safe distance as carnies set up tents, rides and food stands. . .Wordless and eloquent, "The Midnight Fair" offers true enchantment for children ages 3 to 8.
—The Wall Street Journal 

Gideon Sterer and and Mariachiara Di Giorgio's The Midnight Fair may be a wordless picture book, but its story is clear, compelling and utterly enchanting. . .Through clever use of framing and perspective, Sterer and Di Giorgio invite readers to be a part of each moment...Every inch of illustrator Di Giorgio's art is captivating, from a scene in which the silhouetted creatures' eyes glow in the dusk as they emerge from the woods to a poignant moment by the lake near the story's end. But when the carnival lights come on, her illustrations become truly spellbinding. Gleaming and golden, The Midnight Fair radiates magic. It's truly exceptional.
—BookPage (starred review) 

Gideon Sterer
Gideon Sterer is the author of many books for children, including the New York Times best-selling The Christmas Owl, cowritten by Ellen Kalish and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki. He grew up in the woods of upstate New York, where his parents owned a small zoo. After hours he would often run around and let the animals out of their cages. Who knows what sort of midnight mischief they got into? Gideon Sterer lives in Brooklyn.

Mariachiara Di Giorgio is an illustrator, storyboard artist, and concept designer. She created her first picture book, the wordless Professional Crocodile, with writer Giovanna Zoboli. Her work has been exhibited at the Bologna Children's Book Fair and with the New York Society of Illustrators. Mariachiara Di Giorgio lives in Rome, Italy.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
February 20, 2021
BISAC categories
JUV037000 - Juvenile Fiction | Fantasy & Magic
JUV010000 - Juvenile Fiction | Bedtime & Dreams
JUV002160 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Mammals
Library of Congress categories
Picture books
Texas 2x2 Reading List
Selection 2022

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