Everyone’s Awake

Everyone’s Awake
Colin Meloy and Shawn Harris
Chronicle Children’s Books

Wide awake, a child narrator lying in bed regales readers with the night-time activities of various members of the household, not one of whom is actually in bed despite it being almost midnight. Speaking in rhyme he tells of the relatively normal activities ‘Grandma’s at her needlework. / Dad is baking bread. / My brother’s making laundry lists / of every book he’s read’;

and the much more unlikely “My brother’s now reciting every line from Condorman while my sister is trapezing from the kitchen ceiling fan. / Dad just rolled the motorbike into the living room and is practicing Sinatra with the handle of the broom.’

Why oh why, when they have a busy day planned for tomorrow would Mum decide to go up on the roof and start fixing broken slates, or brother spend time using toothpaste tops to build a temple – totally bizarre behaviour. Even the family pets have got involved in the action: the cat’s been taking lessons in bad language from ‘my brother’ and then goes on to engage in a spot of tattooing.

Will these frenzied activities ever cease?

Eventually our narrator just has to go down.

The retro feel illustrations rendered in ink, charcoal and pencil with added colour absolutely capture all the frenzied nocturnal activity as the clock ticks on towards the morning. With a satisfying finale, the entire thing is absolutely and defiantly crazy – insomnia guaranteed – so best not shared as a bedtime tale.

My Friend Earth

My Friend Earth
Patricia MacLaughlan and Francesca Sanna
Chronicle Children’s Books

The combined talents of award winning writer Patricia MacLaughlan and illustrator Francesca Sanna have created a wonderfully inspiring celebration of Mother Earth.

Through Patricia’s lyrical text, seemingly spoken by a child narrator, and Francesca’s beautiful, boldly coloured scenes with their intricate layered die-cuts, youngsters are invited to share in and savour nature and its beauty.
The message is soft-spoken yet its subtle gentleness wields a power that will definitely inspire children as they savour the changing seasons, starting with Earth waking from its winter nap roused by the sounds of spring – the farmer at work in the garden, the bird song.

Not just the sounds though, the sights – of a ‘silent seed, / the spider spinning silver, / the robin and the wrens.’;

and larger creatures too – an albatross on the wing, a tunnelling mole. She gently guides animals to their sleeping places and to their mothers.

There’s such beauty in the landscapes too, be they grassy prairies, icy arctic;

beneath the sea.

Each one is affected by the elements – the heavy rains; the fierce autumn winds; the soft, silent whispers of snow as it blankets ‘… my friend Earth’ with its flora and fauna waiting for the arrival of the sun that heralds spring once more.

There’s beauty too, and tenderness, in Patricia’s alliterations: ‘the baby black bears are born in soft darkness’

though every sentence, every phrase, is a joy to read.

Francesca’s art is a perfect complement for the text – those enticing die-cuts set into her lovingly portrayed scenes of nature, helping to create at every page turn, a time to savour the sights and sounds of the natural world.

Yes Earth is our friend but most important, we all need to be Earth’s friends – before it’s too late.

You might want to use this wonderful book to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day (22nd April) with its theme of climate change. In the meantime buy it, share it, give it.