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In this section we have brought together some of our favourite bedtime reads that we hope will become yours too.
The latest Elmer story from master picture book maker, David McKee - winner of the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement award, and the 2020 British Book Awards Nibbies Illustrator of the Year. It's bedtime, and Elmer's looking after two baby elephants. But how will he get them to sleep? A good walk will do it, Elmer thinks. But as they walk past their friends, everyone in the jungle seems to think he should tell them a bedtime story, and they each have their own favourites. What's yours?
Shortlisted for CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal 2021 | Having suffered heatwaves and COVID anxiety, we can all empathise with the tired and grumpy Arlo who just cannot sleep. The hero of the Greenaway medal winner’s new book speaks to us all, but particularly to over-tired and over excited small children who do not know how to let go of the day. Luckily for Arlo, and for children, Owl is to hand with some useful advice on how he manages to sleep when everyone is awake during the day. The logic of receiving advice from a nocturnal animal will really register with this audience. “Have a good stretch from your nose to your toes/ Do a little wriggle, let your eyes gently close/Relax your whole body, slow your breathing right down/ Imagine you’re sinking into the soft ground". The gentle refrain that Owl teaches Arlo is the perfect antidote for us all- a little bit of mindfulness that would also be a lovely calm down routine in the classroom! Not only are the illustrations a visual feast, with a stunning colour palette marking the transitions between night and day, but Arlo and Owl are beautifully characterised. Another trademark from this hugely talented author is the warm humour. Arlo is so excited by his long and restful sleep that he must tell Owl- and wakes him up! The song is reciprocated with success and their joint celebrations at dusk wake the rest of the neighbourhood and a duet is required to restore calm. The repeated refrain will be one that is copied in homes and classrooms everywhere. Useful for mindfulness and as an introduction to Night and Day topics, this stunning book is a real triumph of beautiful words and images working in absolute harmony.
After a horrible dream, NAME 1(Child) feels that only a cuddle from NAME 2(Adult) will make things better. However, the cuddle isn’t quite enough, even when ALL the family join in. As it bursts out of their door, how far will this cuddle eventually stretch and will it make a difference? And could it become the LONGEST cuddle in the world??! “[Name 1] and [Name 2] and the Longest Cuddle in the World” is a beautiful, rhyming personalised book for 2 for ages 0-99. After a tough year of Covid separations, it's a touching story about how a cuddle can make all the difference to our fears and unite us all over the world. It is Tickled Moon’s 5th personalised book to date and the story has been uniquely written to be personalised throughout for a Child and Adult (or older Sibling). It also includes the names of 5 (or more) Family Members, the Child’s Teacher/Hero and their Hometown. And you can add a personal Dedication too. “The Longest Cuddle” is priced at £19.95 for a Softcover and £24.95 for a Hardcover and is available on Tickled Moon’s website. There you can preview the whole book with your personalisations and listen to the story read by the author, Alison Reddihough.
From the inventive author-illustrator of the award-winning There’s a Bear on My Chair comes this smart sequel, and boy has Ross Collins delivered again. It’s a rollicking, rhyming, visually-pleasing treat in which it turns out that Bear isn’t terribly keen on getting a taste of his own medicine (to begin with, at least). The cause of Bear’s irritation is the presence of Mouse in his house (yes, the very same Mouse on whose chair Bear presumptuously sat in the first book). In Bear’s outraged words, “That rodent can’t live here, oh no! I’ll tell him that he has to go.” Of course, Mouse refuses to leave and proceeds to cause chaos in Bear’s house, before a mob of partying mice turn up. But then - the twist! – when Bear realises “Hey! These mice are nice!” With wonderful interplay between text, illustration and design, this is excellent for reading aloud - the kind of book that will have toddlers urging for it to be read again, and again (and again) while completing the rhymes before adults have chance to read them.
What a clever idea, a children's picture book about the No 10 cat. We've all seen Larry, the Downing Street cat on the news , watched him walk nonchalantly in and out of the black door, and been amused by him. Now Larry gives us the lowdown on what happens inside Number 10. We have Boris and the arrival of Dilyn the dog, lots of important people, such as The Queen, coming and going, and Larry's opinion of the other cats nearby. I found this very amusing and liked the gentle fun poking at all the 'important' people. Of course there's a bit of drama too, but I won't spoil the story too much. Interesting use of 'cat' language and bright, amusing pictures which young children will love. I can see that more stories of Larry might be forthcoming, maybe even a cartoon series on tv? Chris Woolfenden, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
We all have a place in our hearts for the adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, as told by A.A. Milne in Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. In honour of the 95th anniversary of Winnie-the-Pooh, highly talented author Jane Riordan has created a wonderful collection of stories, written in the style of A.A. Milne, that take us back to when it all began, when Winnie-the-Pooh was first purchased for baby Christopher Robin.
A gorgeously warm and relatable story from the brilliant Jill Murphy, featuring the much-loved Bear Family from classic picture book Peace at Last. Mr and Mrs Bear wake up late. It's raining outside, and Baby Bear is late for nursery. Then Mrs Bear sits on her glasses at work and Mr Bear spills his coffee! Oh dear - it seems this is just going to be one of those days! But the loveable Bear family muddle through cheerfully, and there's even a surprise for Baby Bear when Mr Bear gets home from work. With all the hallmarks of an instant firm favourite, Just One of Those Days is a big-hearted story about a family day, which parents and children everywhere will relate to. Full of satisfying repetition and rhythm and delightful illustrations, Just One of Those Days is a must-have for all Jill Murphy fans, old and new.
Freshly following the swashbuckling, song-driven Go, Go Pirate Boat by the same author-illustrator team, Rumble, Rumble, Dinosaur (to be sung - or belted out - to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”) is pretty much picture book perfection for pre-schoolers obsessed with these prehistoric heavyweights. And who doesn’t love dinosaurs, especially as imagined by Nick Sharratt in his distinctive bold, bright, ultra-engaging style, and especially when coupled with Katrina Charman’s joyful rhyming couplets? Using a day-in-the-life structure, the book follows a gaggle of dinosaurs who variously soar and swoop, stomp and stamp, munch and crunch, clop and crash, tromp and tramp from dawn to dusk before saying goodnight as the moon rises high. Alongside the sing-along fun, the book will also help little ones learn to recognise different dinosaurs, among them playful pterodactyls, leader-of-the pack stegosaurus, fun-loving triceratops, and the fierce, thundering T. Rex.
A Julia Eccleshare Pick of the Month July 2021 | A giant baby is on the loose and everything in the Kingdom is about to be destroyed! He tramples the forest and flattens houses and bridges, he sits on the train station and shakes the passengers out of a double decker bus. Neither the soldiers or the airforce can stop him. As he approaches the castle, the King and Queen shake in terror and call a meeting of all their best advisors. What is to be done to save the kingdom? Only the Princess has an answer. As she keeps saying, he is only a baby…Young readers will love this playful and imaginary realisation of a familiar family drama which is vividly captured in Bruce Ingman’s large scale illustration which blend real and imaginary worlds perfectly.
‘Brielle’s Birthday Ball’ is a creative and interesting new take on a story that includes actions and movements to encourage young readers to join in with the characters. Created by Once Upon a Dance, the story follows Brielle as she celebrates her birthday. The illustrations in this book are lovely and detailed, and the instructions for the movements for each page are clearly separated from the storyline with a purple background and photos for dancing inspiration, there’s even some separate little songs to sing while doing the actions. I really liked the concept of this book and the time taken on every aspect. The inclusion of the actions doesn’t take away from the large and detailed illustrations or the simple to follow and enjoyable story. I would say that the creators have tried really hard to make sure that the inclusion of the additional interactive element isn’t done at the expense of any other aspect of the book. A story filled with delight and birthday fun, I think that this would be a brilliant book for any child that doesn’t want to sit still when listening to a story, or just loves to move and dance. It could also be read with out the movements for a pleasant birthday-themed bedtime story! Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Every young child will understand Oscar’s irritation with those constant adult questions, and his decision to stomp out: ‘Where are you going?’, ‘Nowhere’. When he discovers Nowhere at the bottom of his garden, at first this adult free zone seems like paradise – no-one to ask, ‘Where’s your coat?’ or ‘Should you be playing with that?’, but as time goes by Oscar realises that there are some questions he misses, ‘Would you like a cuddle?’, ‘What about a story?’. Like Sendak’s Max, Oscar turns to find his way home from the wild world of his imagination back to his loving family. Jeanne Willis is one of our cleverest and most skilful picture book authors and this is a typically perceptive and multi-layered story. Anastasia Suvorova’s illustrations and die-cut pages add a delicate air of magic, while Oscar, vivid in his oversized red jumper, always holds the eye. A lovely book for family sharing.
As one would expect from a much-lauded artist, past Children’s Laureate and winner of the prestigious Hans Andersen Prize and two Kate Greenaway medals, this is a very beautiful book. But this modern fable has some gentle but poignant messages for young readers. As in many of his books one can safely assume the child represented by young Ernest. Safe and happy with his mum and the rest of the herd but bursting with curiosity about life, and one day he sets off to explore the fascinating jungle. Children will pour over the jungle pages with relish, spotting leopard skin tree trunks, flowers made of fried eggs or even Crème eggs in classic surrealist Browne style. But young Ernest gets increasingly alarmed by the strangeness and finds himself lost. Every child will empathise with the lost child trauma. Ernest is relieved to come upon other animals, but what a disappointment they turn out to be and how marvellously is their boredom and selfish disdain captured. They really cannot be bothered to help or listen – just like some politicians! But somebody does listen- a tiny mouse. Ernest thanks him most politely but does not believe help is possible from this unprepossessing source. Yet he can and does and Ernest and his mum are so happy to be reunited. “And so was the little mouse, as it quietly scurried back into the jungle” Illustrating so perfectly that helpfulness brings its own reward – just as it does for all those carers and NHS staff selflessly giving their time to help. A lovely rewarding read to reflect upon together.
Longlisted for the BookTrust StoryTime Prize 2020 | Ahoy, me hearties, and grown-ups, be warned: the budding buccaneers in your life will demand that you perform Go, Go, Pirate Ship over and over (and over) again! With bright, bold illustrations by the unmistakable Nick Sharratt and a rollicking, rhyming text courtesy of Katrina Charman, this action-packed adventure invites little swashbucklers to join a pair of pirates and their parrot captain on a seafaring quest for a treasure chest. What’s more, while singing the sea-shanty-tastic song to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”, there are tonnes of actions to join in with, from raising the anchor and hoisting the sail, to grabbing the ropes and scrubbing the decks. And, like so many classic children’s adventures, our intrepid pirates make it home in time for tea. It’s a bouncy, jubilant joy from start to finish. For more fabulous sing-along fun, see also Car, Car, Truck, Jeep by the same inspired author-illustrator team.
'Fantastic Fun Facts About Cats' by Russ Franken is aimed at three to six year olds but, quite honestly, the facts range from simple to really obscure so that everyone sharing this book will come away with something new in terms that they can understand, whatever their age. The format of the work matches a short fun fact with a joyfully colourful and diverse illustration of it on the same page. I think my favourite fact is that even a domestic cat can outrun Usain Bolt over a short distance...amazing! There are also some attractive merchandise offers featuring cats at the end of the book, which I'm sure many people will love. The author is a self confessed animal lover, so I hope we can look forward to fantastic fun facts about other pets appearing soon. Drena Irish, A LoveReading4Kids Ambassador
Mummy Owl does everything she can to make sure Little Owl is all ready for bed. She’s read a bedtime story – and then one more on the promise that Little Owl will settle afterwards. And she’s tucked Little Owl in with all his favourite things. But Little Owl can’t sleep because it is too dark, too noisy and because he is too excited about seeing his Grandma and Grandpa Owl. Mummy Owl uses all her best powers of invention and story telling to make sure Little Owl can go to sleep!
Little squirrel friends Sorrel and Sage are delighted that they are just the same. But when Sorrel goes to stay with Sage for a sleepover, she realises that their houses are very different: Sage’s house has branches that go on forever, peppered with pine cones and the softest green needles. Sorrel worries that her house is small and slim and wobbles in the wind. Wanting Sage to think they are just the same, Sorrel makes excuses to stop her friend visiting. She needn’t worry, when Sage does come for a sleepover, they have the best time ever. Children will enjoy the story very much, and discussing what makes a best friend. Susan Varley’s delicate ink and watercolour illustrations are full of warmth and detail.
Pip and Posy are enjoying the garden in their different ways. Pip is doing some gardening, Posy is having fun. For Posy, having fun means making noise, lots of it, which doesn’t go down well with Pip’s new friend, a snail – poor Posy! Except that, when the snail urgently needs some help, Posy is just the person to supply it. It’s a funny, beautifully observed story about difference, individuality – and the near-impossibility of being quiet if you’re someone like Posy (and lots of little readers will be). As ever, Axel Scheffler’s illustrations are full of vitality and detail. Pip’s snail is wonderfully expressive, in or out of his shell, and the garden they all share is bright, colourful and welcoming. A perfect book to share with the under-fives.
Bedtime is a special time and we all have our favourite books that we love to read over and over....but sometimes we need new recommendations, and that is where we come in!
All bedtime routines are different. Some have a bath, others a warm drink but the best routines end with a cuddle and a good book.
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