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.