Thank you Fabled Films Press for sending me a review copy of THE NOCTURNALS: THE CHESTNUT CHALLENGE written by Tracey Hecht and illustrated by Josie Yee. I was given this copy in exchange for an honest review, and because this book was nominated for the Cybils award.

All opinions are my own.

Tobin the pangolin has just wiped the floor with Bismark the sugar glider in a game of Chestnut (which appears to be like checkers), while their friend Dawn the fox cheers them on.

The three friends are enjoying their game when Chandler the chinchilla, self-proclaimed Chestnut champion, steps out of the bushes to give Tobin a run for his title. Sporadic runs of alliteration set him off as the odd nocturnal animal out.

Too bad he’s cheating.

The three Nocturnals friends, perhaps too generous with the benefit of the doubt, take a long time to catch on before confronting Chandler and addressing the insecurities that lead him to cheat.

At 56 pages and 6 chapters (in other words, similar word count per page to a picture book) this is a good stepping stone for kids intimidated about transitioning to chapter books.


  • I’m not sure the “second to third grade” listed on the back of this book is accurate. To be clear, my husband and I Have A Reputation for pushing our kids (those ages) hard academically, but I’d give this to a first grader.
  • It’s morally a gray area that Chandler’s cheating is just forgiven and swept away so fast. This is not a book where the antagonist is truly held accountable for his actions.


  • The book has great backmatter on these four nocturnal animals. Most kids haven’t heard of two of them, and don’t know the pangolin makes stink spray. Discussing stink is always a slam-dunk. 🙄
  • The Nocturnals’ website takes educational activities to the next level – there are facepainting tutorials. *drops mic*

THE NOCTURNALS: THE CHESTNUT CHALLENGE is available now from Fabled Films Press.

Congratulations Tracey and Josie on your nomination!

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