Little Bear's First Sleep, by Lesley Gibbes & Lisa Stewart

Maybe it would be soft like his mother’s fur.
He waited with his legs curled high.
Maybe it would be firm like his father’s hug.
he waited with his head tucked low.
Maybe it would be sweet like fresh woodland grass.
Little Bear waited and waited…nothing happened.
Little Bear was awake.

It is time for Little Bear’s first big witer sleep. His moother and father fall asleep quickly, but Little Bear is wide awake. What will the big sleep feel like? And what will happen if he can’t get to sleep? He tries all kinds of positions, but it is only when he snuggles in close to his parents that sleep finally finds him.

Little Bear’s First Sleep is a gentle picture book story about – of course – bears, and sleep, but also about navigating rites of passage towards independence. With his parents asleep, Little Bear must solve his dilemma for himself, but it is with the knowledge that his aprents are close that he finally does so.

The illustrations, using soft colours in watercolour and gouache, are just beautiful, and teamed with the gentle text make this a lovely bedtime story.

Little Bear’s First Sleep, by Lesely Gibbes & Lisa Stewart
Scholastic Australia, 2016
ISBN 9781743624012

Take Ted Instead by Cassandra Webb ill Amanda Francey

It’s time for bed, sleepy head.

No, no, take RED instead.

It’s time for bed, sleepy head.

No, no, take RED instead.

It’s bed time, but a small child is resisting. But in the interests of helpful, other options are offered to Mum. Each of these options rhymes with ‘head’. Each introduces other occupants of the house, other aspects of the life of this particular family and their neighbourhood. Finally, Mum suggests that Ted might be lonely if he is in the bed alone. This provides the trigger for a final trooping upstairs to bed. Illustrations are pencil and watercolour and offer their own narrative and extra elements to identify. Endpapers feature a paper plane flying and landing, and other elements of the child’s life.

Take Ted Instead is a bedtime story. A story of bedtime that is, full of the procrastinations many young children employ to delay the inevitable. It’s not that bed is an unwelcome place, just that staying up seems a more attractive option. Here, the procrastination takes on a playful tone with each of the offered alternatives rhyming with ‘head’. A young pre-reader will soon be able to make guesses about the ‘head’ rhyme on the page. Recommended for preschoolers.

Take Ted Instead Cassandra Webb ill Amanda Francey
New Frontier Publishing 2016 ISBN: 9781925059533

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

This & That, by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek

I’ll tell you a story of this,
and I’ll tell you a story of that.
I’ll tell you a story
of cavernous caves
and a chimp
with a magic hat.

Two mice (adult and child) begin story time with an empty box, which transforms to a boat and launches their journey through imaginary worlds of the stories the adult promises. Down rivers and across oceans, through market places and palaces, with a cast including elephants, monkeys , kings and queens and so much more, the pair travel until it’s bedtime, and the adult leads the child home, finishing the final story with a kiss goodnight.

This & That is a lovely bedtime offering, with gently fantastical illustrations, and soothing rhyming text, making it suitable for the very young. It will withstand repeated readings and could be easily memorised- both by parent and child

Horacek’s illustrations balance lots of details on some pages, with deceptive simplicity on others, and the fact that the mice have no apparent gender is a nice touch.

This & That, by Mem Fox & Judy Horacek
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743622537

Time For Bed, Daddy by Dave Hackett

‘Come on Daddy, it’s time for bed.’

‘But I’m not tired,’ says Daddy.

I pull on Daddy’s arm to help him off the couch.

‘First, you’ll need to have a bath.’

‘Not yet. I’m still playing.’

‘Playtime’s over, Daddy.’

Book Cover:  Time for Bed Daddy‘Come on Daddy, it’s time for bed.’

‘But I’m not tired,’ says Daddy.

I pull on Daddy’s arm to help him off the couch.

‘First, you’ll need to have a bath.’

‘Not yet. I’m still playing.’

‘Playtime’s over, Daddy.’

A young girl decides it’s time for Daddy to go to bed. But Daddy has all the excuses in the world. She is resolute and gentle, leading him through all their pre-bed routines. At each, he is diverted, and cooperates, but still full of reasons why it’s not yet bed time. Illustrations are iconically Dave Hackett cartoon-y set in plenty of white space.

Time for Bed, Daddy is a delightful bedtime role-reversal (or is it?) that is sure to have young children chuckling. It’s easy to hear every parent, or carer, of young children in the reminders to keep the water in the bath, to clean also the back teeth, and to go to the toilet before bed. Extras include familiar ‘dad’ jokes about putting right arm in, wrong arm into pyjamas. This is a lovely gentle depiction of a wonderful parent/child relationship and of the rituals of bedtime. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Time for Bed, Daddy, Dave Hackett
UQP 2015
ISBN: 9780702253812

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

Hop up, wiggle over, wakey wakey, HUNGRY!
Crunch crunch, gobble gobble, lick lick, MORE!

So begins this beautiful little movement and sound filled offering for early childhood audiences. This unconventional animal family – Mum is a koala, Dad a big red kangaroo, and the nine children include a wombat, an echidna, a bilby and more – move through the day joyfully, from wake up till bedtime.

The text is minimal – just four words or phrases per spread, being the sounds the animals mutter (sploosh! boing…boing) or the occasional word such as yum yum! and a joyful Dad-dee! when Dad arrives at the park where the children are playing. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines are pastel-toned colours of the Australian bush, with white backgrounds and lots of fun detail for youngsters to discover. Movement is depicted with a few well placed lines, and the joy of the family is evident in their faces.

A joyful celebration of families and of Aussie animals.

Hop Up! Wriggle Over!, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743319987

Available from good bookstores and online.

Alfie's Lost Sharkie, by Anna Walker

Alfie's Lost SharkieWho’s Sharkie?
He has big fins,
sharp teeth,
scary eyes
and he’s blue.
Maybe he’s outside.

It’s time for Alfie to get ready for bed, but he can’t find Sharkie. He’s not outside, he’s not in the bath, he’s not in the pyjama drawer or on the bookshelf. Dad tries to be patient, and eventually manages to convince Alfie to choose another toy (in fact, many other toys) but when he gets to bed, Alfie is delighted to find his toy Sharkie.

Alfie’s Lost Sharkie is the second title featuring Alfie, an anthropomorphised crocodile. And, just like the first, Hurry Up, Alfie, there is much to love.

The text is very simple – with no narration, meaning that the whole story is told by the dialogue between Alfie and his Dad (or is it Mum – this is wonderfully ambiguous, which I like) and, of course, by the illustrations, which use ink and collage and are filled with whimsy.

Perfect for bed time reading – or any time of day really.

Alfie’s Lost Sharkie, by Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781742839929

Available from good bookstores and online.

Onesie Mumsie by Alice Rex ill Amanda Francey

‘Onesie Mumsie!

Onesie Mumsie!’

‘Whose bedtime is it?’

‘Onesie Mumsie!

Onesie Mumsie!’

‘Whose bedtime is it?

A small girl is resisting bedtime. Although it might be bedtime for little girls, and even for little rabbits, it’s clearly not bedtime for some of her other onesie-inspired friends. Mum, who may or may not be planning a sit down with a mug of hot chocolate, is happy to play along. Illustrations move from the realistic to the imaginary as different onesies inspire imaginative play. Mother and child enjoy their play until it seems the little girl is finally content to stay in bed. Now Mum can also go to bed. Illustrations are watercolour and pencil, set mostly in white space, although there are hints about what ‘adventure’ will follow. Cameo roles are played by the little girl’s favourite soft toys.

Onesie Mumsie! is a celebration of pre-bedtime games, a celebration of the one-on-one time that is so important for parent and child. The child initiates an activity and Mum rolls with it, joining in to vanquish the animals that appear on her bed. Cue cuddles, tickles and more. Young children will love the playfulness, and the illustrations offer an introduction to different habitats and potential discussions about animals and their habitats. (Tired parents might want to schedule reading to the weekend!) Recommended for pre-school children.

 

Onesie Mumsie!, Alice Rex ill Amanda Francey New Frontier Publishing 2015 ISBN: 9781925059243

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

Go to Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood

Every night she does this.
Ever since she moved into my room.

Jessie won’t go to sleep. She throws her pillow on the floor, she stands at the bar of her cot, and she screams. Her big sister can’t sleep either – she wishes Jessie would be quiet, or, better still, that Jessie wasn’t sharing her room at all. It seems nothing will settle Jessie down to sleep, except maybe a little bit of sisterly love.

Go to Sleep, Jessie! is a gorgeous tale of a situation many families will relate to,from one of Australia’s favourite picture book pairings. Libby Gleeson’s text tells a fairly simple tale of a baby who won’t sleep in spite of big sister, Mum and Dad’s efforts, but at the same time there’s a deeper tale, of both sibling rivalry and sibling love. Apart from not being able to sleep, the big sister also laments the loss of her own space, and the disruption that Jessie has brought to her life. When Mum tells her she doesn’t really want her own room, big sister disagrees – but when Dad takes Jessie out for a drive to try to settle her, big sister can’t sleep, and it is her sisterly intervention which finally gets Jessie to sleep and helps her sleep, too.

Freya Blackwood’s illustrations, in watercolour, gouache and pencil, perfectly capture both the frustration and the mixed emotions of the big sister, as well as Jessie’s upset. WHile Mum and Dad are art of the story, Blackwood makes sure the children are central – with Mum and Dad only visible either from behind or from angles which don’t show their faces. This is the children’s story, and the final image of them asleep together in Jessie’s cot is gorgeous.

A beautiful picturebook.

 

Go to Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
Little Hare, 2014
ISBN 9781742977805

Available from good bookstores and online.

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton

Hey Mum,
I love you…
more than the prickliest tickle…

This delightful offering for the very young, and their mothers, is an absolute delight. The text is simple, only a few sentences in total, with a list of ways the child narrator loves his/her mum, and how affirming that is:
Because I know
with you beside me
I can do anything.

The illustrations are large photographs of various animals, chiefly of an adult with one or more young, showing affection (such as a giraffe kissing another), or in action. The text and illustrations are on white backgrounds, adding to the simplicity and making the overall product a gentle whole perfect for cuddle time or bedtime reading.

Hey Mum, I Love You is a lovely complement to Hey Baby, but each stands alone.

Delightful.

 

Hey Mum, I Love You

Hey Mum, I Love You, by Corinne Fenton
Black Dog, 2014
ISBN 9781922244581

Available from good bookstores or online.

Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emmay Quay

I could eat your little ears.
I could nibble on your nose.
I could munch your tiny fingers.
I could gobble up your toes.

The gentle lulling rhythm of this rhyming bedtime offering is divine. Written for the very young, it could be read to newborn babies but will still be suitable for older toddlers and preschoolers, especially as an end of day read. The text describes all the things the narrator/parent could be doing in adoration of the child, but ends with a reminder that it’s bedtime and so time for sleep. In the meantime, the kissing and cuddling and settling to bed has happened in the illustrations – between a a pair of purple elephants who could be either a male or female parent (or grandparent/carer) and child. These lovely elephants are rendered using pencil and acrylics, and digital collage using a variety of objects including fabrics, knitting and baskets.

The format of the book also makes it suitable for bedtime – the hardcover being cushioned to make it soft touch. It’s easy to imagine a toddler sleeping with the book.

Perfect as a gift for a newborn, Baby Bedtime is a book to be treasured.

 

Book Cover:  Baby Bedtime

Baby Bedtime, by Mem Fox & Emma Quay
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670075195

Available from good bookstores and online.