As much as I love sharing bedtime stories with my children, there are days when the evening routine doesn’t quite go to plan. You’re not supposed to admit it, but some nights, after a stressful work day or a long afternoon of sibling wars, you’re just not in the mood to get excited about reading to the kids.
That’s the night to whip out one of these three new titles, just perfect for very-tired-parents. Each of them is a quality read at any time, but they also include a couple of little ‘tricks’ that mean bedtime can still be a time for snuggling up with a story, but with minimal input on your part!
Blue Whale Blues by Peter Carnavas
New Frontier Publishing RRP: $24.99 AUD
Peter Carnavas is a favourite author/illustrator at Charming HQ, with books like What’s In My Lunchbox and My Nana Is A Ninja on high rotation at bedtime. So his latest release, Blue Whale Blues, was always going to get a look in and it’s as lovely as any of his previous works.
But this book comes with the added bonus of a downloadable audio track! Grab your i-device of choice, scan the QR code on the back of the book and you can kick back with the kids and enjoy the story together.
Deep under the sea, Whale has a case of the blues. He’s got trouble with his bike and nothing he tries will fix it. Luckily, his good friend Penguin – a natural optimist – has helpful advice to offer and teaches Whale to see the bright side of things, even when they don’t go to plan. It’s a sweet story about the benefits of friendship when you’re feeling down and a reminder that we all need to ‘lighten up’ sometimes – which is a challenge if you’re a blue whale!
The illustrations for the book were created as a collage, combining cut outs of Carnavas’ original drawings with snippets of photographs and textured papers. This lends depth and interest to the underwater backdrop, and might also inspire some rainy day craft adventures as a follow-on activity from reading.
The audio track features the author reading the story over a soundtrack of blues guitar and ocean waves. My children noticed the way the music changed pace as different characters spoke, from classic moody blues for the whale, to an upbeat vibe for the penguin. This provided a terrific opportunity to talk about the way music makes us feel and how music can tell its own story, with or without words. The musical interludes also slow down the pace of the storytelling, making it a relaxed reading and listening experience rather than a race to the finish.
But be warned, the Blue Whale Blues song is seriously catchy! It’s now the song of choice in our household at any moment of mild discomfort or negativity, which is actually a powerful tool for defusing grumpiness, especially at bedtime.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas by Aaron Blabey
Scholastic Press RRP: $16.99 AUD
Aaron Blabey is the shining star of the Australian picture book world this year. The Brothers Quibble was in the spotlight for National Simultaneous Storytime, whilst his grumpy anti-hero Pig The Pug is about to hit the shelves in soft toy form.
Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is as witty as Blabey’s other works, with fun rhyming text and humour that’s a little bit cheeky (by which I mean bum jokes, obviously).
Brian is a health conscious piranha who thinks it might be nice to take a break from eating body parts and try a nice fruit platter. The other piranhas are having none of it.
‘Well, how about some silverbeet?’
‘Are you serious, Brian? We eat feet!’
‘Or would you rather a bowl of peas?’
‘Stop it, Brian. We eat knees.’
There are echoes here of Green Eggs And Ham, but it’s considerably quicker to read at bedtime! The overall message is the same though: if you give new food a try, you just might like it.
My kids recognised straight away that Blabey was the author – and illustrator – of this book, thanks to the familiar bug-eyed look of the characters. I love that my Mr 4, who can’t read yet, already has favourite authors whose work he gets excited about just by looking at the cover. This book has put a smile on his dial every night for past 10 days (yes, EVERY night) and he can now recite the whole thing without me having to say a word. Winning!
Bamboozled by David Legge
Scholastic Press RRP:$15.99 AUD
Bamboozled by David Legge is in limited edition re-release right now for the 21st anniversary of its original publication. It’s a very simple story of a young girl going to visit her grandad, playing some games, listening to his stories and having a cup of tea. The twist is that the illustrations on each page are jam packed with surreal inclusions, from the grandfather clock with a digital face, to the knee-high grass in the living room.
The little girl helps Grandad plant bulbs in the flower bed [light bulbs; actual bed] while a giraffe peers out from behind a tree. In short, for every sentence you read, there’s a good 5 minutes of picture analysis to be done, and delighted squeals each time something new is spotted. The final gag comes as the girl notices something a bit unusual about her Grandad today – he is wearing odd socks, which is the least unusual thing she should have noticed in her visit.
Interestingly, my children weren’t drawn to this book at first, as they said the cover looked ‘too old fashioned’. Such connoisseurs! BUT, as soon as they became aware of the game behind the narrative, they were hooked and have re-read it several times now, spotting new things in the background on each read through.
What are you reading at bedtime this week? Do you ever try to get out of reading bedtime stories?