Each week I review books we’ve read with Squirm. Find other reviews here
The picture book world is filled with books about night and sleep – perfect for a bedtime story. The three I am reviewing today are all connected with sleep – but in different ways!
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Kate Toms
This book was given to Squirm by someone I used to work with. It’s a lovely book which takes the old ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ rhyme and extends and rewrites it. We end up learning about a mouse who looks up at the star before dreaming about it. Like other good ‘bedtime stories’ it had lots of repetition throughout it, as the story develops and extends.
This books probably isn’t one that I would pick up myself, but I really enjoyed it. The illustrations, which seem to be made of fabric, are just the right colours (mostly blues and light browns) to make you feel like you’re in a safe, comforting place, and I really like the way the story has been given to mice as the main characters.
The obvious connection to this book is singing the traditional rhyme – and you can even use actions if you wish. You could also think about other nursery rhymes you know and think about whether the mice from this book could appear in any of them. You could also attempt to make your own fabric based illustrations.
Good Night, Sleep Tight by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
Mr Pilot made sure we picked this one up when we were at the talk at Chermside Library and we’re now the proud owners of an autographed copy. This is a re-release of an earlier book, now with the awesome illustrations from Judy Horacek, who manages to tell her own story (or stories, really) through the illustrations. The story is about Skinny Doug the baby sitter who is telling Bonnie and Ben all of the nursery rhymes which his mother once told him. We end up going on a journey with them, until finally Doug manages to get them back into bed.
The educational idea behind this book is about making sure that the nursery rhymes, which were once so popular, are carried on to our children. There is serious research about the importance of nursery rhymes (if you’ve read my posts on Rhyme Time, you’d know my thoughts on how important nursery rhymes are). The rhymes are intersected with a repetitive ‘chorus’, which we actually read in chorus at the library event. As your child gets older, they could easily read Bonnie and Ben’s bit, while you read Skinny Doug’s bit. I also really like the fact that it’s not a parent telling them the rhymes, but a babysitter, highlighting the importance of literacy from all adults in the child’s life.
It would be great to use this book as an example of your own nursery rhyme book. You could collect nursery rhymes that you love and create your own illustrations to go with them. You could also talk about stories in stories and discuss the illustrations and how Judy Horacek is telling a story without using any words at all. You could connect this, for older children, with books like Jeannie Baker’s Window or Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, as well as finding where other illustrators tell stories that aren’t in the words.
Little Cat and the Big Red Bus by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker
I actually picked this one up because a friend had recommended other books by this pair. It’s a lovely story about Cat who catches the bus home from school with her older sister. She doesn’t like it too much, because the bus is noisy and often she doesn’t get the seat she wanted. But one day, her older sister isn’t on the bus, and Cat finds herself tired and sleepy after a big day at school. She falls asleep on the bus, misses her stop and discovers that the bus can be a quiet, comforting place after all.
This is such a lovely book, with just the right sense of whimsy about it.My favourite pages are the almost map-like illustrations showing how the bus goes up and down and over on the way to school, but the illustrations are beautiful and soft throughout the whole book. There’s a moment where the story becomes a little scary, but then a nice warm feeling comes over the book and everything is all right again.
This would be a great book for making maps to accompany it. You could examine different types of maps, and how to bring a story to life through them. You could also go on a bus ride and talk about what makes a bus different to other types of public transport. You could also interview someone who rode a school bus at different times – I know I have some pretty interesting stories about the school bus!