A big thank you to Old Barn Books for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for an exciting debut picture book from Bryony Thomson
The Wardrobe Monster
Old Barn Books
As a small child I can remember having a phase of being scared to go to bed. For me the cause of the terror wasn’t a wardrobe monster: I was convinced the resident owl from the oak tree in our garden had fallen down the chimney and was flapping around in there, ready to fly out into the bedroom at any moment. The fact that there was a chest of drawers in front of the fireplace made no difference.
We eventually discovered that a stray branch from a cherry tree in our neighbour’s garden tapping on the window when the wind blew was the cause of the trouble.
I wish I’d had something like Bryony Thomson’s debut picture book to reassure me.
Like many young children, Dora the child protagonist of her story suffers from fears about the dark.
Lack of sleep means that she, along with bedfellows Penguin, Lion and Bear are in a bad mood at breakfast time.
This bad mood lasts throughout the entire day and come bedtime, Dora employs delaying tactics.
What exactly is the cause of the problem?
There are sounds coming from inside the wardrobe – a wardrobe monster no less.
Can Dora and her toy friends face their fears and confront that monster? After all, they only need to open the cupboard door when the banging starts …
The smudgy nature of Bryony’s superbly expressive illustrations makes her characters all the more huggably adorable – even the one responsible for the scary noises.
Red Reading Hub is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Bryony’s book: here she talks about her favourite childhood books:
Picture books weren’t a big part of my life as a child, I’ve checked with my parents and I just didn’t really have many. Stories and reading, however, were still hugely important and many of my earliest memories involve being read to by my Mum or Dad, snuggled up against them and cocooned in the magical world created by the story.
Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Winnie-the-Pooh was a favourite amongst my whole family and I am lucky enough to still have my full colour hardback copy complete with maps of “100 Aker Wood” as endpapers. I was particularly fond of the incident where Pooh goes to visit Rabbit, eats too much honey and condensed milk and gets stuck trying to leave the rabbit hole. The characters all had such distinctive voices and I can still hear them in my head (the way my Dad used to read them). Somehow because the locations in the story are so familiarly English you felt like you were a part of it and when out for a walk might at any moment bump into Eeyore or Pooh or come across a heffalump trap.
There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon by Jack Kent
There’s No Such Thing As A Dragon was one of the few picture books I owned, purchased when one of the travelling book fairs came to our school; I can remember picking it off the shelf! What I loved about the book then, and still do now, is the complicity between Billy Bixbee and the reader who both acknowledge the dragons existence, set against Mother’s complete refusal to see what is going on right under her nose. The illustrations are brilliant as well, there is so much life and character in them, especially the dragon with his obsession for Buttercup Bread.
George Mouse’s First Summer by Heather S. Buchanan
I must be honest I have very little recollection of the actual story of George Mouse’s First Summer. It was published the same year I was born and I think my parents must have started reading it to me when I was very small. I do remember the illustrations which were tiny and beautifully intricate, but what I remember most of all, and what made this one of my all time favourite books, was that one of the mice (George’s eldest sister) was called Bryony. As a child with an unusual name – in the 80s probably even less common than it is now – this was HUGE for me! I felt a sense of ownership over this book like no other before or since.
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Ballet Shoes was a book my Mum and I shared together. The book itself was the old hardback copy she had been read when she was a little girl. At the time I was obsessed with ballet myself and so the book had an innate attraction but what really sticks in my memory is the characters rather than the story. They felt like real people and in the differing personalities of the three sisters there was always someone you could identify with.
War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
War Horse is one of the first books I have a really clear memory of voluntarily reading myself. I’m sure there were others before it but it was the first book which I remember surreptitiously reading under the duvet when I was meant to be asleep. It was the first book that made me cry and the first book that I tried to illustrate; I still read it every couple of years. Again it was the characters that won me over, despite being a horse I felt as though I knew Joey like a friend and when Topthorn died I was devastated. The book gave me a completely new perspective on World War I, which we had touched on briefly in school and awoke an interest in history which has continued ever since.
Thank you Bryony and I hope readers will follow the tour on some of the other blogs; tomorrow is the turn of Playing By the Book.