Grandfather Twilight

Publisher: Philomel Books, NY, 1984

Editor: Ann Beneduce

Art Director: Nanette Stevenson


Parent’s Choice Foundation, Award for Illustration, 1984;

Washington State Governor’s Writer’s Award, 1985.

Grandfather Twilight

An old man made of sky goes out walking at the end of each day. In his hand, he carries a single pearl that grows with every step until, “Gently, he gives the pearl to the silence above the sea.” A classic bedtime picture book.

Author’s comments:

Over the years, many people have told me about the peaceful hush that comes over a child, even a roomful of children, with the reading of GRANDFATHER TWILIGHT. When I created the book, I could only hope that something of the serenity I feel, myself, at twilight might come through the words and art. But I never dreamed that so many children would truly love it as they do, ask for it over and over again, find solace for fears of the dark and sometimes, even for the loss of a parent or grandparent. I never dreamed that GRANDFATHER TWILIGHT would have such a wonderful long life as a book, nor such a wide reach among children and adults alike, from the youngest to the oldest. To this day, it seems a miracle to me.

He gets ready for bed...

“He gets ready for bed…”


The Horn Book
March/April 1985, p.219
from “Musings” by Robert D. Hale

One of the simplest yet most successful of tales that could become legends is Barbara Berger’s Grandfather Twilight (Philomel). Each evening, Grandfather Twilight closes his book, goes to a chest which contains an endless string of pearls, removes one, and—walks through the forest to the sea. As he walks, the animals and birds settle quietly for the night because in his wake is the haunting glow of dusk. He is spreading twilight with his magic pearl—which grows larger and larger until, at the sea’s edge, it floats into the heaven as a full moon.

Barbara Berger is extraordinary in her visual metaphor. Paintings which glow with their own life depict pearl dust flowing behind Grandfather as he walks so that one can actually believe this is how twilight occurs.

Grandfather Twilight is a book that enriches our heritage of mythology and legends—one to call upon frequently— “whenever the world falls apart.”

NY Times Book Review
Feb. 24, 1985
by Janice Prindle

Far from the extended captions typical of most picture books, Barbara Berger’s words in this illustrated bedtime story have been selected with such devotion that they stand, like a hymn, on their own. Like a hymn, her words also speak to young and old, and yet the words merely hint at the richness of this artist’s evensong. Her full-color paintings tell the story just as beautifully, and in greater, more original detail. Since the soft-edged acrylics are reproduced in the book at their true size, none of the detail has been lost….

Here indeed is a reassuring path through bedtime terrors into sleep. It is Barbara Berger’s first venture; this reader hopes it will not be her last.

Dec. 3, 1984, p.86

[GRANDFATHER TWILIGHT] is the coziest bedtime book imaginable. Barbara Berger’s paintings of Grandfather Twilight, who walks through the forest holding a pearl that becomes the moon, are soft and warm as a pillow, and her spare text is full of quietness.

Children’s Books

The Donkey’s Dream
The Donkey's Dream

As he walks along, a donkey dreams he is carrying a city, a ship, a fountain, a rose, then a “lady full of heaven” upon his back. When the lady gives birth in a cave, she calls the donkey to her: “See what we have carried all this way, you and I.”

Read More »

A Lot of Otters
A Lot of Otters

A toddler in pajamas sails off in a box with his book, and the story in his book unfolds around him. He meets the sea otters who dive for fallen stars under the sea, carry them up and cavort with the stars, causing “such a commotion of light,” that Mother Moon looks down.

Read More »

All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet
All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale from Tibet, by Barbara Helen Berger

How far is it to Lhasa? Very far. Up windy slopes, over mountain torrents and snow, a boy and his yak keep going. Will they ever reach the holy city of Lhasa? The boy doesn’t know, but an old woman has told him he can make it there before nightfall.

Read More »

Animalia, by Barbara Helen Berger

Learning to do calligraphy, I fell in love with Medieval illuminated manuscripts. I wanted to try and make one for children of our own time. I was also exploring Buddhism and Christianity and found a great compassionate heart in both. In Buddhism, this big heart includes not only human beings, but all beings, even small insects.

Read More »

Gwinna, by Barbara Helen Berger

GWINNA is the story of a girl who has wings but does not know it. When she hears a mysterious song in the wind, it fills her with longing. Led by a small white owl, Gwinna sets out on a quest, finding her wings, her own power of flight, and at last the harp she longs for.

Read More »

The Jewel Heart
The Jewel Heart, by Barbara Helen Berger

On a small stage on the forest floor, two dolls play out their story. Gemino gives his song to Pavelle with the only voice he has, his violin, and she cannot dance without him. But one day Gemino is lost, and Pavelle sets out to find and then to fix her broken friend if she can. A story of the healing power of love.

Read More »

Angels on a Pin
Angels on a Pin, by Barbara Helen Berger

There is a famous old question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Long-ago philosophers used to ponder that. Ideas still come from asking questions. ANGELS ON A PIN begins with one we can ask any time: What if?

Read More »

When the Sun Rose
When the Sun Rose, by Barbara Helen Berger

A magic friend comes with her lion from the yellow rose of the rising sun. She stays to play: “The lion purred. And we made rainbows all day.” At sunset, the friend must leave, but she promises to return. “Now it is dark. My friend is gone.”

Read More »

Thunder Bunny
Thunder Bunny, by Barbara Helen Berger

When old Granny says, “She came out of the blue,” Thunder Bunny wonders, “I did?” She ponders the sky where clouds come and go yet the blue is always there. “I came from the sky.” The others pooh-pooh that, but Thunder Bunny decides to jump on the wind and find out.

Read More »

Where to Find My Books

Moonlet’s book from A Lot of Otters