The story of a simple friendship that forms over the course of a night shift is given rich life with evocative art and prose. After the title character leaves his family to work as a caretaker of a large construction site, he's visited by a small, gray kitten. The tiny furry companion follows as the night watchman makes his rounds, but when the kitten disappears, the man worries about its fate as he hears a dog, a train, passing cars. This isn't a Stephen King novel; things turn out fine, and the man's family ends up one feline richer. But the journey to get to that dawn reunion is lovely. Illustrator Yoo's sunsets, purple-to-blue night skies, and chalky beams of yellow light set the mood, while her deceptively simple rendering of the kind-faced watchman puts readers into the man's shoes. But the real surprise is the depth of debut writer Sullivan's words. The construction vehicles don't just sit on the lot: "Garbage trucks line up like circus elephants. / A backhoe rises like a giant insect." Sound effects ("peent peent peent" goes a nighthawk) and lived-in, careful observations make it no surprise to learn that Sullivan was a building and equipment guard and that the cat-adoption story is real. The man and his family are people of color. Every life and job is unique; this book's take on the job of a watchman is empathetic, poetic, and a joy to look at, cute kitty and all. (Picture book. 4-8)
– Kirkus *STARRED REVIEW, 7/15/18
A night watchman hugs his family and goes to work, where he methodically makes his rounds through an empty construction site. His flashlight’s warm yellow beam illuminates the darkness: “He checks the doors. He checks the workshop.” Debut author Sullivan, who based the story on his own experience, illuminates the inner life of his character as well, using concise, poetic language. The watchman “thinks of his boy and girl, safe and asleep at home.” He’s alert to the beauty of the darkness, too: the big trucks’ fanciful-looking shadows (“A backhoe rises like a giant insect”), the full moon that “shines like an old friend,” the way the air fills with a sound of a train and then becomes still again. Most of all, he is kind: a stray gray kitten joins him on his rounds (“ ‘Back again?’ he asks”), and after worrying when it disappears, the watchman takes the kitten home to join his family. Yoo (Strictly No Elephants) sets a lovely mood, taking readers from sunset to dawn through washes of orange, pink, and blue, the watchman’s compassionate demeanor assuring them that all’s well.
– Publishers Weekly *STARRED REVIEW, July 16, 2018
The pithy, poetic text brings a sense of calm and wonder, and onomatopoeic words note the many sounds the night watchman hears in the quiet of the dark night. Yoo's textured, serene artwork in beautiful saturated tones perfectly complements Sullivan's lines and conveys a beauty in the night and the construction site that readers might otherwise miss. As the kitten and the night watchman make their rounds, trucks turn into elephants, cranes into giraffes, and a regular night of work turns into a magical night filled with the promise of friendship.
– Booklist STARRED REVIEW, September 1, 2018
This soft, gentle story is a perfect bedtime story for lovers of trucks and construction equipment, cats, and nighttime wanders. Yoo’s textured digital and hand-print illustrations immerse the viewer in the experience of making rounds with the night watchman and his kitten companion, progressing from the orange of sunset as he leaves for work, through blues and blacks of night warmed by spills of light from the watchman’s flashlight, to the pink-tinged sky of dawn....Sullivan’s lovely text is accessible for independent readers, but it begs to be read aloud; its simple cadences will leave listeners comforted and ready for sleep.
– BCCB STARRED REVIEW, September 2018