Favourite Bedtime Stories: Freya Blackwood
Book-lovers share some of their old and new favourites for reading aloud to children at bedtime. This month, Australian illustrator Freya Blackwood with her daughter Ivy, 6.
Every night Ivy and I lie in her bed and read to each other. First she reads to me (or to our dog, see above!) and then I read to her. It’s my favourite part of the day. Many of the books we read are those I have collected for their illustrations, but others are from my childhood, or gifts specifically targeted to Ivy’s various obsessions.
I’ve read this story well over 50 times, I’d say, and I never get bored of it. The meter is such fun and I play with different ways of reading it, so that sometimes it’s like a beatnik poem. But the best thing about this book is the game we play as we read it. The story is about the night time yawn that travels through the zoo as all the animals get sleepy. We try to get the full way through the book without yawning and to date I’ve never managed. We’re both ready for sleeping when we get to the last page of this book.
The illustrations are completely fabulous as well. But of course, it’s a Gecko Press book and they always publish absolute gems.
Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts
This book went through a phase of being read every other night for well over two years. Ivy loves dinosaurs, so any dinosaur book is a hit, but this is the best. I had a consistently hoarse voice from being the tyrannosaurus and his grim and grisly bride.
We really enjoy Julia Donaldson’s rhyming in this book, but we LOVE David Robert’s illustrations - they take it to a completely different place. They’re very graphic; stylised pen drawings and a refreshingly limited colour palette. It’s quite a long book, so I’m always rather relived when I reach the finale as the tyrannosauruses get swept down the waterfall and all the way to sea. But that is only after the 100th reading. Phew!
Two favourites from my childhood: Burglar Bill by Allan and Janet Ahlberg and Marty Moves to the Country by Kate Walker and Bruce Treloar
My mum loved reading it to me and has passed on the enthusiasm. I love hearing different readings of this book - Ivy’s dad does a brilliant job of giving Bill and Betty perfect cockney accents. Ivy and I enjoy the details in the illustrations, especially when the two burglars put everything that they’ve stolen back.
We’ve found some sayings from the book have leaked into our lives – “That’s a nice tin of beans, I’ll have that!”
Marty Moves to the Country by Kate Walker and Bruce Treloar
The sepia pen and ink drawings remind me of my childhood, visiting old buildings and picnicking out in the bush with my parents. I always assumed the illustrations in this book were more appealing to adults, but I’ve been happily proven wrong - Ivy asks me to read it all the time.
It’s a great book to read aloud; written in the first person, it’s long and conversational and you get a lovely feel for Marty. And together the writing and illustrations create a very real experience of Marty’s move to the dry, dusty country.