And it’s just as well I love it because when we first got it two years ago we had to read it night after night after night. The good thing about this book is that no matter how many times I read it I never tire of delivering the white-haired, brolly-wielding Good Fairy’s scolding lines: “Little Rabbit Foo Foo, I don’t like your attitude, scooping up the wriggly worms and bopping them on the head…” My 7 year old, a proud fan of gruesome bits, says that Little Rabbit Foo Foo getting turned into a goonie at the end was her favourite bit. And for such a fun story it certainly made her think: “How would you scoop up a tiger?” “Why does he keep on doing it? Maybe he wants to be a goonie!” Oh well – not straight to sleep after that one then, but at least she doesn’t identify too much with the head-bopping main protagonist!
Goodnight, Baby Bat by Debi Gliori has been a much enjoyed bedtime book and has been cared for lovingly so that even the delicate flaps remain intact six years on. There is so much detail and so much of interest to look at in the illustrations that it easily held my daughter’s attention after successive reads. It’s a sweet tale and there is much about Baby Bat’s bedtime procrastination that both parent and child can identify with!
We have had so much fun over the last few years with Lynley Dodd’s hilarious rhyming books, with both Hairy Maclary and Slinky Malinki being firm favourites. At some stage all dogs we met were immediately categorized according to which character they most closely resembled, but I have to say that being a die-hard cat lover my vote has always been with Slinky Malinki and the wonderful nose-in-the-air Scarface Claw.
Dogs Don’t do Ballet by Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie has a funny quirky story and beautiful stand-out illustrations. There are gorgeous colours, scrumptious clothes and exquisitely expressive faces to enjoy on every page, as well as the affectionate and hilarious relationship between the girl and her ballet-loving dog.
Next there’s Eliza and the Moonchild by Emma Chichester Clark. My Eliza was given this for her first Christmas and it quickly grabbed her attention. It has the most beautiful illustrations and a fresh and original plot that delivers a comforting message about friendship.
Mr Big by Ed Vere has been my younger daughter’s pick for a long time. She loves Mr Big despite his complete lack of pinkness or cuteness and she has clearly fallen for his endearing personality (Hurrah!). She especially loves the part where he plays music in the night and no-one knows which window it is coming from (except her of course, and she never tires of pointing it out!)
Another immediate hit in our house was Nuddy Ned by Kes Gray and Garry Parsons. This book has glossy pages, an outrageous rhyming storyline and hilarious bold illustrations complete with cheekily positioned lift-the-flaps designed to tease. It’s naughty, rude and unsubtle and both my kids love it! Their favourite part? The bit at the end where the mum and dad go nuddy as well of course!
My current favourite book for bedtime or any time really is You Can’t take an Elephant on the Bus by Patricia Cleveland-Peck and David Tazzyman (illustrator of the Mr Gum books). The witty rhyming text discusses the inappropriateness of allowing certain animals to ride certain vehicles. Think whales riding bikes, bears riding ice cream vans, hippos in hot air balloons and you get the idea. It’s an absolute pleasure to read out loud and the illustrations are brilliant.
Finally there is our precious signed copy of Go To Sleep or I Let Loose the Leopard by Steve Cole and Bruce Ingman (which was shortlisted for this years Red House Children’s Book Award). This is a great one to read aloud at bedtime! It starts as the new babysitter can’t get the kids to go to sleep and begins making over-the-top and totally nonsensical (or are they?) threats to get them to comply. Anyway it all ends well and you don’t have to worry about that leopard scaring your little ones just before lights out. As the babysitter sweetly says, at the (almost) end of the book, to the now sleeping children, ‘You didn’t think I’d let loose a NASTY leopard did you?’ That’s not quite all there is to it – but I can promise that nobody gets turned into a goonie in this one!
You can find a fantastic selection of Children’s books by Gwyneth Rees on our website, including her latest book Cherry Blossom Dreams which is out on Paperback on the 4th June and available to pre-order today.