I’m a huge fan of Nicola O’Byrne’s books. Both Open Very Carefully and Use Your Imagination are absolute winners, especially for reading aloud to big groups of kids. Her illustrations are colourful and full of character and I just love the style of them. Nicola’s books get better and better, and her latest book from Nosy Crow, The Last Book Before Bedtime just goes to prove this.
Everyone knows that the very last story before bed is the best story of all. But the problem is, everyone wants to be in that very last story! A familiar fairy tale is turned topsy-turvy when Cinderella hijacks the story of The Three Little Pigs, then Little Red Riding Hood jumps in, adamant that her story is better because it’s full of danger. And then the Big Bad Wolf turns up too! But disaster strikes! Uh-oh! What will they do? The reader is still awake and needs a story! The characters make up their own story, of course, and one with enough funniness, romance, danger AND cake (obviously) to keep everyone happy.
The Last Book Before Bedtime should be called The Perfect Book Before Bedtime because this is the perfect bedtime story. It’s got characters from lots of different stories that children will know, from The Three Little Pigs to Cinderella. The person reading gets to do all sorts of voices, from pigs to little girls and a wolf. You can really make the book come alive with all these voices.
As well as the story that is being narrated each of the characters has little speech bubbles that add to the story. Number 2 Pig is always hungry and looking for food (‘Who cares?! There’s a banquet in this story’), Cinderella is bossy (‘If I can’t be the star of the story, then NOBODY can!), and of course the wolf is always doing bad stuff (‘Ooooh, this is fun! I love a chance to be bad.). One of the things I love most about Nicola’s books is the interaction between the book, the characters and the reader. There is plenty of interaction in this book, especially towards the end.
Nicola’s illustrations are wonderful as always. They are full of fun and silliness, and each of the characters jump off the page. I love the way that Nicola has given each of the pigs a different personality and how Little Red and Cinderella have some real personality. I really love the design of the book too, from the cut-out cover to the way that the characters stand out on the page.
If you are looking for the perfect book before bedtime (or to really perform for a group) you can’t go past The Last Book Before Bedtime. It’s sure to lead you on to many, many more bedtime stories.
Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley joined forces a couple of years ago to create the wonderful The Three Bears (Sort of). It is a real favourite of mine and a book that I come back to again and again. When I saw that Yvonne and Donovan were collaborating on a new picture book, this time retelling Little Red Riding Hood, I knew that it would be fantastic and hopefully just as good as The Three Bears (Sort of). I certainly wasn’t disappointed!
In Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) Yvonne uses the same storytelling technique that worked so well with The Three Bears (Sort of). A parent reads the story of Little Red Riding Hood to their child (Small Blue Polka Dot Pyjamas) who keeps interrupting to question the story and poke holes in it. This child is very switched on and has lots of questions like ‘Why was she called that?,’ ‘Don’t wolves usually hunt in packs?,’ and ‘Why didn’t he just eat the girl right there – and then go to Granny’s for dessert?’ The very patient parent answers all the child’s questions, adding their own twists to the tale.
Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is another perfect picture book from this award-winning team. I absolutely love this book and have to tell all the kids, parents and teachers I know all about it! Yvonne Morrison sure knows how to tell a story and she gives readers a delightful twist on the traditional tale that is full of humour and a dash of sarcasm. Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a great book for reading aloud, to children of any age, and it is especially fun to have two people reading the two different parts.
Donovan Bixley is one of my absolute favourite illustrators and his illustrations for Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) are stunning. There are so many things I love about Donovan’s illustrations for this book that I have to list them:
- The little details in the illustrations, from the wolf pattern in the wallpaper at the beginning to grandma reading Call of the Wild.
- The wolf’s wonderful expressions, especially when he’s choking down grandma.
- The range of materials that Donovan incorporates in to the story, including diagrams and maps that help to prove the child’s points.
Donovan has also done the brilliant design for the book. I think that it’s this design that makes the book work so well and gives it that special appeal to children.
Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite) is a book that every family should own. It is a book that will get shared again and again, never loosing its appeal. I can certainly see why children from around the country have chosen this book as a finalist in the 2015 Children’s Choice Award. I can’t wait to see which story Yvonne and Donovan do next!
Check back tomorrow to read an interview with Donovan Bixley and Yvonne Morrison about how they went about creating Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite). You can also enter here to win a copy of this wonderful book.