Tag Archives: Viviane Schwarz

The Sleepwalkers by Viviane Schwarz

Do you have a bad dream that will not go away?
Are you afraid to sleep at night?
Call the Sleepwalkers!
Write us a letter, put it under your pillow…and we will come a save you!
Have a good night!

It is almost time for the old and tired Sleepwalkers to return to the waking world. But before they go, they must conjure and train three new replacements. For who else will look after the Sleepwalking House and be there to answer the call of a child frozen stiff with fear, trapped in a nightmare? This is the story of the NEW Sleepwalkers.

I’m a huge fan of Viviane Schwarz’ books (There Are Cats in This Book, Cheese Belongs to You) so you can imagine how excited I was when I read on Twitter that she was working on her very first graphic novel.

The Sleepwalkers is a unique and delightfully strange story about a group of creatures who protect children while they sleep.  The Sleepwalkers are conjured from socks, a bedspread and even a quill and are tasked with saving children from their nightmares and bad dreams.  When they are created, they find themselves in the Safe House, a many-roomed house that exists in the world of dreams.  They leave the Safe House when they are needed and return here after they have completed their mission.  When the Sleepwalkers meet the children they are having a nightmare (being chased by rats or falling from the sky), and it is the job of the Sleepwalkers to help them overcome their fears.  A nightmare about falling from the sky turns into a dream about flying on the backs of dinosaurs.  The story is weird and wonderful, and it’s filled with action and adventure.

Viviane’s style of illustration translates well to this graphic novel format and she lets her imagination run wild in the dream world.  One of the reasons I like her illustrations so much is the wonderful expressions she gives her characters and this really shines through in The Sleepwalkers.  I love Bonifacius, the bear-like character because he’s got such an expressive face.  There are times in the story where doesn’t talk for a page or two and you can tell exactly how he’s feeling because of these expressions.

My favourite thing about The Sleepwalkers (and the thing that makes this graphic novel really special) is the added extras that Viviane has put in the book.  You can learn how to make a sock monkey and a banana milkshake, and she’s drawn a detailed diagram of the Safe House and the Turtlemobile.

If you know a kid that’s looking for a new and exciting comic of graphic novel, with plenty of action, adventure and a little bit of magic, then grab a copy of The Sleepwalkers.

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Filed under authors, books, children, children's fiction, fantasy, graphic novel, New Zealand

Picture Book Nook: Cheese Belongs To You! by Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz

I love picture books that start with a simple idea, then build up and build up into a ridiculous situation.  One of my favourite examples of this is Oliver Jeffers’ fantastic picture book, Stuck.  Floyd’s kite gets stuck in the tree and more and more things get thrown up to try and knock the kite down.  Alexis Deacon and Viviane Schwarz’ new book Cheese Belongs To Me! is another book like this, that builds on one simple rat law: cheese belongs to you.

Rat law is simple: if you take a piece of cheese, it belongs to you. So if a bigger rat takes it … then cheese belongs to them. Unless … a quicker rat swipes it! Every rat knows rat law; if you are big or quick, strong or scary, hairy or dirty, or, indeed, all of the above. But just who gets to EAT the cheese?

Cheese Belongs To You is a hilarious picture book about one piece of cheese and the rules that decide which rat it belongs to.  The more complicated the situation becomes, the faster you want to read.  The only problem is that you start to trip over your tongue so you have to slow down (try saying ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rats’ quickly 3 times).  I love the inventive ways that Alexis has come up with to describe the different rats, so that each one is better than the last.  You find yourself anticipating what might be next and I’m sure kids will too.  There could be lots of discussion about what sort of rat could come next.  Viviane’s illustrations are superb as always and I think her style of illustration is perfect for this story.  Her rats all have different personalities, and even on a page filled with them all the rats look different.  I especially love the ‘big, quick, strong, scary, hairy, dirty rat,’ with his hook-hand, peg-leg and pet cockroach.  I think a great way to introduce the story would be to cover up the text and see if the children can guess why each rat is better than the last.  I also love the way that Viviane has incorporated the cheese into every page, including the cheesy end papers.

After the situation turns into utter chaos the story reaches a satisfying conclusion that keeps everyone happy.  Grab a copy of Cheese Belongs To You! and share it with the children in your life.  I’ll certainly be reading this to every class, from Year 1 to Year 8 on my next library visits.

5 out of 5 stars

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Filed under books, children, funny, Illustrators, Picture Book Nook, picture books

I’m a Shark: Bob Shea’s AWESOME book trailer

I’m a Shark by Bob Shea was one of my favourite picture books in February.  If you or your children like books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus or the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, and There are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz then you should definitely check out Bob Shea.

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Filed under book trailer, books, children, picture books