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Dawn Watch

Written by Jean E. Pendziwol

Illustrated by Nicolas Debon

  • 32 Pages
  • 9780888995124
  • 7.800" x 10.200"
  • Reading age from 5 to 8
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Family / General (see also headings under Social Situations)
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Nature & the Natural World (see also headings under Animals)


Publication Date August 10, 2004

This lyrical picture book tells the story of a child and her father making a night crossing of Lake Superior on their sailboat.

As first mate, the child's job is to watch for ships, lights, land and logs while the autopilot steers the craft. Above, the Big Dipper, North Star, Milky Way and Northern Lights illuminate an inky night sky. And as dawn breaks, the horizon begins to glow and land appears, a black line between sky and sea. Striking illustrations by Nicolas Debon capture the excitement, mystery and beauty of this night-time adventure on the world's largest freshwater lake.

Short-listed for the Governor General's Literary Awards: Illustration 2004

Short-listed for the CLA Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award 2005

Selected for the CCBC Our Choice 2005


Jean E. Pendziwol

Jean E. Pendziwol has published several highly acclaimed picture books, including Once Upon a Northern Night, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. She is also the author of Marja’s Skis, illustrated by Jirina Marton, and The Red Sash and Dawn Watch, illustrated by Nicolas Debon. Jean’s debut adult novel, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters, will be published in 2017 in more than ten languages. Jean finds inspiration in the rich history, culture and geography of Northwestern Ontario where she lives in the shadow of the Nor’Wester Mountains near Lake Superior.

Nicolas Debon
Nicolas Debon was born in Northern France and later moved to Nancy where he studied art at l'Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts before moving to Toronto for ten years. His picture book The Strongest Man in the World won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Nicolas currently lives in France.


"...the words, filled with the water's 'hush' and 'hiss', convey a subtle drama that is beautifully extended by Debon's lustrous, moody paintings." Booklist

"Debon, Nicolas's impressive illustrations...capture the essence of the nighttime voyage perfectly and do much to emphasize the lyrical quality of the text, which reads like poetry. Apart from being a wonderful choice to read aloud, connections to astronomy and father-daughter relationships can be made. Highly Recommended." Canadian Children's Literature - CBRA

"Quiet pleasures, but important ones in a sailboat at sea." Kirkus Reviews

"The lyrical, first-person narrative quietly captures the wonder of the universe during a late-night journey...A quiet adventure for sharing one-on-one." School Library Journal

"The words and pictures are a superb fit: each uses perspective for dramatic effect, and they combine to create a contemplative and sometimes rapturous atmosphere." Quill & Quire