Stories of the Night
Here’s a gorgeous little book to share at bedtime that reminded me a tad of one of Arnold Lobel’s stories in Mouse Tales. It begins with Little Bear requesting three stories from his Mother as she tucks him into bed and she’s happy to oblige; seemingly this is part and parcel of their usual bedtime routine.
The first tale is “The one that says it’s time to go to sleep,” as Little Bear describes it and features a Night Guardian – an oldish, long haired woman who goes about the forest banging her gong and announcing to all the forest animals that they must cease what they’re doing for bedtime has arrived and they must sleep.
Then having put all the creatures to bed, she returns home and she too sleeps, but not before she’s banged her gong (very gently) just one more time.
The second story is of a sword-carrying child, Zhora who gets lost in the forest while out picking blackberries and is given shelter for the night by her bat friend, Jacko Mollo.
The third is also seemingly a familiar story, “The one with the man in a big coat who never sleeps!” as Little Bear describes it. This character, Bo, keeps his coat on all the time and has in exchange for his silver watch, been allowed to take up residence in a nest that once belonged to a grumpy old owl. An absolute delight, this tells how the sleepless Bo is persuaded by Otto otter to go for a swim in his overcoat, gives away his hat and finally gets himself a wonderful night’s sleep.
Kitty Crowther uses some beautiful sleep inducing recitations such as “The sky is all black now. But we can count on the stars to lead us into tomorrow.” and “Choose a star to lead you into tomorrow” that I can envisage being used with little humans as well as Little Bear.
Crowther’s pink glowing, textured scenes are an absolute delight, infused as they are with warmth and love, be that between Mother Bear and her infant, or the other characters in the tales she tells.
Quirky, quietly beautiful, and a wonderful demonstration of the power of stories, this is a small gem.