Just Because

Just Because
Isabelle Arsenault and Mac Barnett
Walker Books

Would that every young child had a parent as ready and willing to answer the seemingly endless string of questions as the father of the small girl in this book even though her “Why is the ocean blue?” ; “What is rain?”; “Why do leaves change colour?”

and the other posers she puts forward as she lies tucked under her duvet in the dark, are clearly in part a tactic for delaying bedtime.

Quality time is what he provides and never once does he find himself trotting out the titular ‘Just because’.

Instead his responses are flights of fancy: the ocean’s blueness is because ‘the fish take out guitars. They sing sad songs and cry blue tears’; rain is “The tears of flying fish”; Leaves change colour because “the trees keep warm by setting quiet little fires in their leaves? By winter, their branches have all burned up.” (I love that!).

The answers get increasingly and wonderfully outlandish: The reason dinosaurs disappeared is that “Millions of years ago thousands of asteroids fell on the earth. / But the dinosaurs had planned for this. They fastened themselves to big balloons, floated up to space, and stayed there.”

The ever-patient father’s benedictory finale is surely, pitch perfect to send his little daughter off into her own dream world at last.

Mac Barnett’s story takes creative thinking to a new level that will likely inspire youngsters to think up their own playful answers to the questions his child protagonist poses.

A perfect complement to the telling, Isabelle Arsenault’s mixed media illustrations have a retro feel, while the imaginary worlds she conjures forth are intricately detailed and full of wonderful whimsical otherworldly touches.

Everybunny Dream! / Hop Little Bunnies / This is Owl / Sleep, My Bunny

Everybunny Dream!
Ellie Sandall
Hodder Children’s Books

Ellie Sandall’s latest Everybunny tale is essentially a bedtime story.

Through a gentle rhyming narrative and a sequence of captivating scenes, some frolicsome, others more peaceful, we share in the bedtime ritual of the little bunnies as they respond to their mother’s instructions,

until they’re tucked up cosily under the covers.

Who should appear suddenly though but another creature with a long orange bushy tail, also clad in night attire.

Before long there’s a host of baby fox cubs sitting with the little bunnies – who have now all hopped out of bed – avidly listening to a good night tale

and then it really is time to snuggle down altogether for some shut-eye and perhaps some pleasant dreams.

A lovely way to send your little ones off into the land of nod at the end of a busy day.

Hop Little Bunnies
Martha Mumford and Laura Hughes
Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Based on nursery favourite Sleeping Bunnies, Martha Mumford has written a jaunty text that includes not only the bunnies of the original song but also fluffy lambs, tiny chicks, kittens and ducklings

all of which sleep until noon and wake up and make lots of noise.

They then go on to play for the rest of the day before a bedtime song sends them all off to sleep once more.

With plenty of flaps to investigate and sounds to make, Laura Hughes charming rural illustrations add to the springtime bounce of Martha’s words.

This cheery charmer is likely to become a much requested book for young listeners be that at home or in an early years setting.

After an initial sharing I’d suggest an action packed story session with sleeping, hopping, leaping and swimming, not forgetting baa-ing, cheeping, mewing and quacking.

Another book that invites interaction is:

This is Owl
Libby Walden and Jacqui Lee
Caterpillar Books
The sun is shining, Owl is fast asleep and doesn’t want to wake up but the book has to start so the reader’s help is needed to rouse our feathered friend.

Tummy tickling is only partially successful so the sun needs to be extinguished and replaced by a moon.

Hurrah Owl now has both eyes open but Beetle further along the branch is causing a distraction.

A considerable amount of page flapping is required to help Owl reach Beetle but then they both disappear. Oops! Where can Owl be?

With the help of several more birds Owl is eventually located and it seems one has become two for alongside is Other Owl.

Strangely the pair of them are doing a little uncharacteristic nest building so a bit of twig collecting from reader’s won’t come amiss.

Sometime later, once that threatening raincloud has gone, Owl has something in the nest to show off to readers.

By the time the sun starts to come up once again, two owls have become three and it’s time to bid them all farewell.

Feathery fun with a tad of scientific learning included, Libby Walden’s gently humorous, guiding words, in tandem with Jacqui Lee’s eye-catching, funny illustrations will certainly make for an active animal shared book experience.

Sleep, My Bunny
Rosemary Wells
Walker Books

Here’s a lovely way to wind down with your little one(s) at the end of the day.

Rosemary Wells’ gently flowing text reads like a lullaby as it talks of the sounds of evening: the simultaneous song of owls and crickets; the night wind that has ‘taken the moon for a ride’, the first soft summer rain.

Alongside we see, in Van Gogh-like impressionist style, a sunlit tree outside and then as the sun goes down, a series of gradually darkening skies shown through the window, foregrounded by scenes of a little bunny going through his night-time routine with his mother and father.

On each spread the textual border mirrors the sky seen outside.

There’s obvious love and tenderness in this bunny family so adorably depicted in this lovely bedtime book.

Picture Book Poetry: One Upon A Star and Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night

Once Upon a Star
James Carter and Mar Hernández
Caterpillar Books

Here’s an opportunity to go on an amazing journey without moving from the comfort of your own sofa, courtesy of poet James Carter and illustrator Mar Hernández who take us on an awesome ‘poetry and art meet science’ trip through time and space with a focus on our Sun.
First we head back through history before this happened …

And after a long slow cooling period: ‘A sea of stars at last were born / gradually they fired and formed / out of clouds of dust and gas / each a mighty sparky mass / and one of these became our Sun / our solar system had begun!’
Thereafter Carter’s compelling narrative verse touches upon the growth of our planets, in particular the Earth with its oceans and amazing life forms that rely upon the sun for their continuing existence. His final focus is each one of us, unique individuals – stars and stardust every one.

James Carter’s lucid poetic account of these awesome events, when integrated with Mar Hernández’s dramatic artwork, makes an exciting and impactful book.

Much more down to earth is:

Nature’s Lullaby Fills the Night
Dee Leone and Bali Engel
Sterling
The sun is gone; the moon is out: bedtime is nigh.
The author draws listeners into a nocturnal world of fluttering moths, spinning spiders, chirping crickets, flowers closing their petals, floating seeds and swaying willow branches;

past moonlit lakes,

and down to the sea where dolphins cease their leaping and oysters shimmer from the depths, towards farmlands where the animals are beginning to slumber; through a forest and finally into a child’s bedroom with the repeated refrain, ‘Nature’s lullaby fills the night’ punctuating every sequence.

With her gentle, soporific verses Dee Leone transports little ones towards sleep. In tandem with Bali Engel’s tranquil scenes of the bedtime rituals of parent animals, large and small in their natural settings executed in a colour palette of dark blues, purples and greens creates, we have an engaging, calm-inducing bedtime book for little ones.

I Love You, Bunny

I Love You, Bunny
Alina Surnaite
Lincoln Children’s Books

A warm glow emanates from the cover of this debut picture book and stays with you all the way through the story.

Mum has just tucked Suzy up for the night with her comfort Bunny. Suzy however is concerned about the possibility of monsters coming while she sleeps.

Mum assures her that Bunny will chase off any monsters and keep her safe.

Bunny does his job as lookout through the night until dawn breaks and that is when something dark comes creeping into Suzy’s room reaching out for her sleeping form, or so it seems, and then disappearing again.

That’s when Suzy stirs and realises that Bunny is no longer by her side: he’s completely disappeared.

Putting on a show of bravery she gets up to search for her toy but there comes a sound from behind her. She turns and sees …

“A MONSTER!”

Then dashing in fright from her room the child runs straight into the waiting arms of her mother. “A monster ate Bunny!” she sobs.
Shortly after the cause of Bunny’s disappearance is revealed, Suzy is reassured that there is no monster after all

and returns to bed for a little while longer.

Many young children have phases of being scared in the dark, particularly those with powerful imaginations.
Alina Surnaite uses pastels to create her soft focus, crepuscular scenes of familiar domesticity, casting a mood of gentle reassurance, which should help assuage such nocturnal fears.

Play

Play
Jez Alborough
Walker Books
The adorable Bobo is back and he’s in defiant mood. Mummy chimp declares it’s bedtime and the little chimp is far from ready to settle down for the night. The sun’s still bright, his friends are still up and ready to play; and play is exactly what Bobo wants to do.

Being Bobo he does …

Until Mummy discovers what he’s up to, and back into bed goes Bobo. Not for long however: there’s plenty of go in the young chimp yet and Turtle is on hand for some watery fun. But as the sun sinks over the hill, Turtle decides it’s time to sleep, which leaves Bobo alone and facing …

He does what most infants would in that situation: hollers ‘Mummy’ for all he’s worth.
Fortunately another of his pals is still around and willing to deliver the little chimp safely home to an extremely anxious parent. There’s no argument about ‘bed time’ now. In fact it’s Bobo himself who says the words and in no time at all they’re both snuggled up for the night.
Next morning at sunrise, who should be ready and waiting for another day’s fun and games but all his jungle pals..
Following on from Hug, Tall and Yes, Jez Alborough has created a celebration of play and friendship. Once again, with very few words, he fashions a wonderful drama that will not only be a winner with existing Bobo fans, but will gain him a host of new would-be playmates.
Brilliant for developing visual literacy, encouraging talk, and perfect for beginning readers; but most important, it’s enormous fun.

I’ve signed the charter  

Swish & Squeak’s Noisy Day / Take Ted Instead

Swish & Squeak’s Noisy Day
Birgitta Sif
Andersen Press
Swish is a mouse with super-efficient ears that she puts into action from those first waking moments of the cacophonous day described in Birgitta’s Sif’s sweet tale.
The CRUNCH CRUNCH sounds she hears coming from downstairs aren’t as she first thinks, a crocodile consuming the kitchen table; rather it’s Squeak, her younger sibling, enthusiastically munching breakfast cereal. And so it goes on with some gentle noises of preparations for school and some not so gentle …

The walk to school and lessons therein are equally full of eeeeks, munches, squeaks, toots, pump ums and bah bas – it’s small wonder Swish’s head is in a spin …

but those ears really come into their own in the melee of the playground at home time.
All this invitingly join-in-able onomatopoeia (great for developing sound/symbol relationships) and more, forms an integral part of Sif’s captivatingly whimsical scenes of sibling affection executed in predominantly soft pinks, rose, purple and teal hues.
A lovely celebration of the sibling bond and incidentally …

of the peace and quiet of libraries.

Take Ted Instead
Cassandra Webb and Amanda Francey
New Frontier Publishing
The 3Rs of reading – rhyme, rhythm and repetition – rule in this tale of a mother trying to coax her reluctant toddler up to bed. The little lad tries putting forward a host of alternatives: the dog, the baby his cat, his older brother, a toy robot, a neighbour and even his goldfish (each has a name rhyming with ‘sleepy head’) …

but Mum is having none of it. In fact she uses Ted and a spot of reverse psychology to get the resister where she wants him.
A fun read aloud for adult and child to share at bedtime. Equally, with the key ingredients for beginning reading integral to the story, and playful illustrations that work with the text, this is an ideal book for children just starting out as readers to try for themselves.

I’ve signed the charter  

The Night Box

The Night Box
Louise Greig and Ashling Lindsay
Egmont Publishing
With his own special key, young Max is custodian of the night and having watched the sleepy day departing and bid his mother goodnight, he approaches The Night Box. It’s right there among his toys waiting for him to turn the key, lift the lid and let day slip inside. In its place comes darkness, tumbling, dancing and whirling around his room. It’s full of mischief as it chases all the colours out from every corner and away.

Then for a time all that’s left is the sounds: a plink, a tap, a tinkle and a purr, each one exaggerated by the darkness. After which Max becomes aware of the enormity of the night and all it holds.

Night is many things: the keeper of the stars that guide a lone swan to her home; the gentle protection of the sleeping fawn beside its mother; the caller out to play of the woodland creatures: badger, mole, owl and fox. It’s also the bestower of gifts: a moon to the pond, a mole to a goose; a fox to the rose; milk to the kitten; for the branch there’s an owl; for the wall a tree and for Max, a cosy bed and a bear to snuggle by.
Benevolent night remains but that too needs rest, so once it’s fast asleep it’s time for Max to wake, open the box once more and allow another exchange to happen …

What a beautiful evocation of the coming of night, its magical effects and its dawn departure, poet and debut picture book author Louise Greig and illustrator Ashling Lindsay have together created. Text and pictures work in perfect harmony. That Louise is a poet is clear from the way she weaves words together, creating cadences that are a delight to read aloud at any time; but as a bedtime story, have a gently soporific lilt. The unusual and shifting perspectives of Ashling Lindsay add to the allure of her scenes.

I’ve signed the charter  

That Bear Can’t Babysit / Brobot Bedtime

That Bear Can’t Babysit
Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend
Nosy Crow
Little did Mr and Mrs Burrow know when they had to resort to hiring Bear as babysitter for their night out, leaving their seven bunny offspring in his charge while they went off to a party, what those young rabbits or indeed Bear, might get up to.
The junior Burrows certainly seem to have Bear wrapped around their little paws from the start – or some of them do at least. They choose inappropriate reading material; cause chaos, and worse when it comes to supper;

create mayhem with the hosepipe and then embark on a moonlit adventure with Bear at the helm.

Finally our ursine child-minder seems to have the upper paw, all the more so when out comes the perfect bedtime storybook.

Which is just as well because before you can say ‘goodnight little bunnies’ back come Mr and Mrs B to find a scene of serenity and shut-eye; accompanied by some rather surprising words from their babysitter. Shame that counting isn’t one of his better skills.
Author, Ruth Quayle’s debut picture book is a charmer through and through. It’s full of lively, tongue-in-cheek dialogue, scattered throughout with join-in-able repeat phrases, not the least of which is the title of this book, and there’s a lovely final twist in its tail.
Alison Friend’s scenes fizzle with fun. Her portrayal of frolicsome mischief, furry friend style, is full of amusing detail and her characters are adorably impish.

Brobot Bedtime
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Scott Campbell
Abrams
The only words of this pre bedtime story are speech bubbles – one colour per character – and encased within outlines that approximately correspond with different shapes of the speakers’ heads. The dialogue, which is liberally sprinkled with wordplay, opens with the mother robot sending her three offspring to bed. A seemingly straightforward “time to enter sleep mode” instruction however, is anything but that. Beep can’t possibly sleep; he has “the flick-ups” and needs help. His brothers Crash and Buzz offer assistance in the form of a “nice cup of oil”,

to no avail. Then Buzz leaps into action with a spot of diverting impersonation …

And so it goes on with all manner of supposedly helpful shenanigans until, with Beep on the point of insomniac self-destruction, mum robot calls out, expressing extreme displeasure demanding to know “Why are there still gears turning up there?” and threatening “a hard reboot”.
A plan is hatched but will those little bots ever settle down and drop off to sleep? Well, um yes – and no!
The crazy, occasionally slightly confusing, visuals of the romp, in tandem with those colour-coded speech bubbles, offer a wonderful opportunity for readers aloud (and young listeners), to engage in robot-speak. A word of warning though: if you share this as a bedtime book, it might well lead to rather too much child-robot talk and as a result, insufficient infant wind-down.

I’ve signed the charter  

There’s a Walrus in My Bed!

There’s a Walrus in My Bed!
Ciara Flood
Andersen Press
Flynn is thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in his new bed, but come bedtime, it appears that his much-anticipated sleeping space has been invaded. Neither Mum, nor Dad believe his “there’s a walrus in my bed,” assertions so he’s forced to try and fit himself alongside an enormous intruder. Things aren’t straightforward even then: could the creature be hungry perhaps? Or suffering some malaise …

Blankets and a drink of soothing milk seem to exacerbate the problem, the latter sending the walrus to the bathroom for a wee.
Perhaps a lullaby might be sufficiently soothing to induce slumbers on the walrus’s part. It certainly doesn’t seem to please Flynn’s parents. What IS the lad to do?

There aren’t any monsters lurking and finally Flynn resorts to an embrace …

which appears to do the trick but there’s still the issue of fitting Flynn and the slumbering sea creature into the same space: it just isn’t big enough.
Flynn has one more trick up his pyjama sleeve: “Mum, Dad, can Walrus sleep in your bed tonight?” he requests. Their affirmative reply leaves their son able to snuggle into his soft warm bed at last; but he’s the only human likely to get a good night’s sleep thereafter …
Rich, warm hues make the invader and the place he invades, full of geniality; and Ciara Flood’s characterisation is superb. Mum’s and Dad’s expressions at Flynn’s increasingly demanding and disturbing activities speak volumes.
Another winner from rising star, Ciara Flood: I’d avoid sharing it just before bed though: you just never know – new bed or not …

I’ve signed the charter 

Are You Sure, Mother Bear / Goodnight World

dscn9229

Are You Sure, Mother Bear?
Amy Hest and Lauren Tobia,
Walker Books
It’s the very first night of winter; snow has fallen all around and it’s time for Little Miss bear and her mother to start their long winter sleep. The young bear however, is not ready for sleep just yet; she’d far rather watch the snowflakes falling. The two snuggle up together, munch on toast and stare through the window and gaze at the snowy world beyond.

%0a

Little Miss begins thinking of everything she’ll miss once she succumbs to sleep: the stars, the moon and the hills just right for rolling down. They’ll all be right there come spring, Mother Bear reassures her little one; but then she gives in. Out the two go for one last moonlit roll …

%0a

before finally, no matter what, it’s time for bed and sleep at last because that’s what bears do in winter, seemingly even semi-domesticated ones.

%0a

Full of feel-good warmth and reassurance, this is a lovely book to share with sleepy littles, who will enjoy both the snuggly indoor scenes and the beautiful outside woody, snowy landscapes.

%0a

Goodnight World
Debi Gliori
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
With a gentle, lilting narrative and soft, soothing scenes of a world already to slip into sleep, this is a beautiful just-before-bed story for young children. As we bid ‘Goodnight’ to sun, moon and stars, ships upon oceans, rockets, cars and planes, the birds, bees and fishes,

%0a

the flowers and grasses, the animals in the zoo and in the park – pretty much everything in fact, a little child curls into a parent’s arms and shares a favourite book before finally falling fast asleep.

%0a

Gorgeous, dream-like images drift gently across every spread providing plenty of visual delight before gently lulling the listener to the land of slumbers too. Equally though, it’s great for joining in so I’d suggest a second reading and a third to allow for that, maybe on consecutive nights.

dscn9251

Time Now to Dream

%0a

Time Now to Dream
Timothy Knapman and Helen Oxenbury
Walker Books
Alice and younger brother Jack are playing ball when they hear what sounds to them like ‘Ocka by hay bees unna da reeees’. They stop playing and follow the sound into the nearby forest – Jack more than a little reluctantly for he’s worried it might be the Wicked Wolf. Hand in hand they go and soon hear another sound …

%0a

which troubles Jack all the more: he’s now thinking about the waiting claws of that Wicked Wolf. “Shhh, … Everything is going to be all right.” comes Alice’s assurance as on they go, creeping now. More sounds … Jack’s convinced they’re lost and is talking of ‘snap-trap jaws’, and his warm snuggly pyjamas.

dscn8948

The sound gets closer and now it’s Alice who’s frightened …

%0a

Jack however is rooted to the spot, transfixed by what he sees and hears: not a wicked wolf but a motherly one. To reveal what she’s doing would spoil the story but try saying slowly out loud those words that drew the children into the forest at the start.

%0a

Timothy Knapman controls the pace of his story with supreme skill; not a word is redundant in his narrative. Helen Oxenbury’s painterly watercolours of the forest capture the essence of its fairy tale spirit at once mysterious, misty, shadowy and sun-dappled …

%0a

and of the children, Jack and Alice, the timeless joys of childhood and the power of the imagination. This surely is bedtime picture book perfection.

WNDB_Buttonlocalbookshops_NameImage-2

Good Night Like This and This and …

%0A
Good Night Like This
Mary Murphy
Walker Books
Adorable adult animal characters – a horse, a rabbit, a firefly, a bear, a duck, a cat and a mouse bid their respective, equally adorable infants good night in this lovely book. It’s one that uses soporific language ‘ Yawny and dozy, twitchy and cosy. Good night rabbits, sleep tight… ‘ to lull listeners into a sleepy mood too as they share in the rituals of the respective animals’ bedtime biddings …

%0A

and by turning the split pages can play their own part in the good nights …

%0A

before they too, enter the land of nod.
Gorgeous! Such a beautiful, dreamy colour palette, so much love and tenderness at every turn of the page – aaaahhh! Sweet dreams little ones. Sleep tight.

DSCN8424

Sleep, Little Pup
Jo Parry
QED
Insomnia hits us all from time to time and in this story told in a gentle rhyming text, it’s a cuddly-looking Pup that has tried all the usual ways of inducing sleep – sheep counting, star counting and even more puppish pursuits such as tail chasing, bone chewing, mice teasing and even howling at the moon: all to no avail. Out come the nocturnal bugs and beetles, the fireflies and moths and all sing a lullaby for Pup but he remains wide awake …

DSCN8425

so much so that when fox comes along, guess who joins the moonlit patrol. Over at the pond is where Pup finds himself next and there he stops for a bit of fish tickling, lilypad floating and frog-style leaping …

DSCN8427

Will he ever get some shut-eye?
Finally back to his basket comes a sad-looking Pup but then along comes his Mummy with a goodnight kiss and cuddle, and a new soft blanket. It’s that soft, warm snuggly blanket that at last, does the trick: sweet dreams little Pup; you’ve plenty to dream about.
With a cute main character and an equally lovable supporting cast, Little Pup is likely to win many friends among early years listeners: the text could well help induce sleepiness but not, I suspect, before the story’s over. Jo Parry’s scenes have a soft charm, similar to that blanket. One to add to the bedtime story shelf.

DSCN8540

Everyone Says Goodnight
Hiroyuki Arai
Chronicle Books
It’s Little Bear’s bedtime but first he needs some help packing away all his toys. Toddlers can assist by turning the split pages to get the toys in the toy box.
It’s also time for Little Bunny and Little Kitty to go to bed but they too have toys to put away and again ‘littles’ can assist, as they can those three little piglets –

DSCN8541

they have a kitchen play set to put in the box …

DSCN8542

Now finally, we need to get those children tucked up too and then it’s …

DSCN8543

Gentle interactive fun for tinies at bedtime and just the thing to encourage them to tidy up first like the characters in this cute little book.

DSCN8531

My Dreams
Xavier Deneux
Twirl
A small child shares his dreams – flying high a-back a huge bird or soaring on a magic carpet, entertaining a princess in her tower, playing on an enormous slide …

%0A

or participating in a game of hide and seek in a poppy field, or enjoying a ride on a dinosaur’s back or even that of a whale.

DSCN8533

All these fanciful scenarios take our dreamer far from home; but then it’s time to return to a place of quiet calm and perhaps finally, some snuggly stillness …
With its ‘glow in the dark’ silvery tactile component of every dream scene, this small chunky book is a delight at every turn of the page; and the limited colour palette is used to great effect, heightening the whole nocturnal drama.

WNDB_Buttonlocalbookshops_NameImage-2

Goodnight Everyone

DSCN8500

Goodnight Everyone
Chris Haughton
Walker Books
It’s sundown and the woodland animals – the mice, the hares …

%0A

the deer and Great Big Bear – are feeling sleepy. There’s one animal that doesn’t join in all those yawns and stretches though; that’s Little Bear who is still full of energy and eager to find a playmate. Despite determined efforts from the insomniac, none of the others wants to do anything but bed down for the night …

 

%0A

and then comes a sigh from Little Bear AH ………….., followed by a long deep breath AHHHH ……….. and then an enormous stretch and a gaping yawn. And that’s when Great Big Bear seizes the opportunity and Little Bear, who is the recipient of a great big good-night kiss and …

%0A

With a beguilingly simple, somnolent narrative style and a brilliantly rich colour palette, Chris Haughton works his magic once again, in this instance inducing in listeners and readers aloud alike, a deep sense of satisfying warmth and relaxation. At the same time he imbues the story with gentle humour and the whole thing is cleverly designed with cut out pages (matching the relative size of the animals) leading us through the woods and the story, and then moving into full page and strips; and from light into darkness as the animals drop off to sleep one by one.
If you’re looking for a bedtime story you need look no further – this one is perfect; if you’re looking for a wind down after a hectic lively session in nursery or early years classroom, again, this is perfect – zzzzzzzzz
Moreover those endpapers (the front showing Southern Hemisphere constellations; the back the Northern Hemisphere with Great Bear and Little Bear in the sky) are quite superb …

DSCN8504

and add an extra dimension to the whole brilliant thing.

WNDB_Buttonlocalbookshops_NameImage-2

Animal Magic, Cuddly Cow, Portly Pig, Baby Elephant & Baby Reindeer

%0A

Animal Magic
Phil Allcock and Gina Maldonado
Maverick Arts Publishing
Delightfully playful is Phil Allcock’s nonsense rhyme featuring what starts out as a hedgehog – a funny one – and morphs into eight other animals – small and smaller. There’s a hopping one, a wiggler…

%0A

a strutting clucker, a quacking swimmer, a jogger, a hopper (furry this time) and slimy slitherer and finally …

%0A

Toddlers will have enormous fun guessing what each new disguise will be before the page is turned to reveal it in one of Gina Maldonado’s enchanting dayglow spreads.

DSCN8087

Cuddly Cow/ Portly Pig
Axel Scheffler
Nosy Crow
Another two lovable animals star in the latest ‘Sound Button’ farmyard stories from the inimitable Axel Scheffler. The first features a very dozy Cuddly Cow intent on finding a quiet peaceful spot for some shut-eye. Her own meadow’s no good because the other cows make too much of a din: surely there’s somewhere else though, after all it is past sundown.
The chicken shed’s full of clucking hens, the horse is inhospitable, there’s a right old row in the pig pen – thank you ducks – but what about the sheep field? Maybe a spot of counting might help …

DSCN8088

Portly Pig’s troubled on account of his clean, pinkness. He’s against green grass, yucky flowers and trees as he describes them, and sets off in search of a mucky place. Soon he discovers just the thing: a cool, muddy pool; and a delightful day of splashing and sploshing follows. Until that is, the sky changes colour …

%0A

Pig, like most young children is a real mud lover but unlike them, he can keep on getting muddy, letting the rain wash him off and immediately getting mucky all over again – in an instant. Youngsters will delight in Portly’s mucky, messy coat and might well be tempted to emulate his actions – adults beware!

DSCN8265

Baby Elephant / Baby Reindeer
illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Chronicle Books
In the first of two new offerings in the ‘Finger Puppet’ series we discover how Baby Elephant greets her Mama, finds food, keeps cool and communicates with fellow baby elephants.
Baby Reindeer lives in a contrastingly cold tundra climate and to find food, has to use his hooves to dig in the snow and uncover tasty lichen. Like Baby Elephant, he too swims in a river – albeit a very icy feeling one and snuggles against Mama Reindeer for warmth at the end of the day.
Both board books provide a lovely way for human adult and baby to interact with a book.

WNDB_Button localbookshops_NameImage-2

Adventures at Bedtime

DSCN7154 (800x600)

Mr Moon Wakes Up
Jemima Sharpe
Child’s Play
I’m not sure what kind of creature Mr Moon is but that’s part of the beauty of this magical book – it leaves spaces for children to step into. What is certain though is that he has a tendency to nap at all the wrong times – for the child narrator at any rate …

DSCN7155 (800x600)

One night however, summoned seemingly by birdsong, he springs from the bed and climbs into the wallpaper on the stairs …

DSCN7156 (800x600)

Intrigued, the child follows and together they enter an altogether different, mysterious place. Here Mr Moon is wide-awake and the two play games …

DSCN7159 (800x600)

frolic in the maze, go adventuring, and boating …

DSCN7160 (800x600)

Then there’s a wonderful picnic tea party with Mr Moon’s friends …

DSCN7161 (800x600)

On this occasion though, it’s not Mr Moon that starts to feel sleepy and think about bed …
The gorgeous dreamlike quality of Jemima Sharpe’s illustrations draws children into a parallel reality that reminds me at once of Sendak (The Moon Jumpers) and Alice’s wonderland. The voice of the brief telling is unobtrusive allowing the reflective, almost meditative scenes to be pondered over at leisure.

DSCN7244 (800x600)

Kangaroo Kisses
Nandana Dev Sen and Pippa Curnick
Otter-Barry Books
Headstanding (not a good idea for one so young thinks the yoga teacher in me), flying, hippo cuddling …

DSCN7245 (800x600)

whale’s tail nuzzling, alligator racing, giraffe tickling and dancing with rhinos are all proffered as bedtime delaying tactics by the little girl to her patient mum in this gently rhyming picture book, the text being presented as exchanges between mother and daughter.
And even when she’s eventually got her pyjamas on, the very mention of a toothbrush sets her off again. There’s elephant’s tooth flossing and bear’s fur brushing to attend to, and more. Then the clock chimes and despite her yawns, the young miss must still give her pup a hug – oh and that kangaroo needs kissing …  Will she ever snuggle down for the night? … Yes, finally …

DSCN7247 (800x600)

Sweet dreams.
The blend of fantasy and reality works well here. It’s as well that this little girl didn’t have any more animal theme toys or other paraphernalia in her home …

DSCN7246 (800x600)

or she might be letting her imagination run wild even now …
Pippa Curnick beautifully captures that childhood joie de vivre spirit and the mother’s determination to remain calm and in control in her bold, bright scenes.

Use your local bookshop     localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

 

It’s Bedtime

 

DSCN6535 (800x600)Unstoppable Max
Julia Patton
Oxford University Press
I suspect many parents of a lively youngster will recognise Max: his batteries never seem to run down. So when it comes to almost bedtime, Max is brimming over with energy and has a whole lot of things on his ‘to do’ list. …”So if you can tidy away your toys, get into your clean pyjamas, and feed Fluffy, I’ll be back in five minutes.” his mum says. A simple enough request except that Max doesn’t have toys; what he has is an army engaged in Operation Castle Attack and stopping is not what Max wants to do.

DSCN6536 (800x600)

Out comes his thinking hat to help our young hero make a choice… sensible – tidying up; or naughty – keeping Mummy out of his bedroom; or crazy – going on an expedition to the South Pole? Max decides and that’s number one task he can tick – more or less …

DSCN6537 (800x600)

However he stlll has the clean pyjamas to get himself into and Fluffy is yet to receive his evening feed. How does Major Unstoppable Max deal with those other two tasks? Suffice it to say he needs a little assistance from that thinking hat, some very careful planning and a rather nifty move or two.
When his mum comes back she’s pretty impressed with young Max but as for following her instructions to “pop to the bathroom and brush your teeth.” – well um …

DSCN6538 (800x600)

A crazy tale of mayhem, making up your mind and an irrepressible imagination, this one’s sure to delight the countless Max’s of the world and make adults smile knowingly.

DSCN6539 (800x600)

Beep Beep Beep Time For Sleep
Claire Freedman and Richard Smythe
Simon and Schuster Children’s Books
It’s almost the end of the day and the road-building machines have been hard at work on the motorway: there’s the Backhoe loader, the digger, a tipper truck, a concrete mixer, a dump truck, a grader and a road roller all ready to wind down and take some well-earned rest. But first they need a bit of a clean up and then one by one the vehicles all line up in their yard under the silver moonlight for their nightly slumbers.

DSCN6540 (800x600)

Despite the onomatopoeic beeps, vrooms and pops, this rhyming text has a strangely soporific rhythm about it ,so once youngsters have had the opportunity to explore all the action in Richard Smythe’s busy scenes, (some have fold-out pages), they might well be ready to close their eyes and just listen one more time to the words and let the images drift into their sleepy heads and join the big machines in sweet dreams.

Use your local bookshop      localbookshops_NameImage-2
Coming up next week:
book-giving-day-blog-badge-Story-SnugLittle Why banner