Jenny Nimmo (text) & Gwen Millward (illustrations)(Egmont)
Daisy has just moved to a brand new house and finds herself on the first night in a big new bed, feeling lost and a bit frightened. But suddenly she hears a growl … the Beasties have crept in unnoticed and have spread all sorts of treasures under her bed. Those treasures will help Ferdinand, Weevil and Floot (as those beasties are named) tell Daisy stories of robbers, lost princess and many more magical things, during the next few nights and help her fall asleep. But eventually the stories run out; how is Daisy supposed to go to sleep now? Encouraged by the Beasties, Daisy learns to make up her own stories and when she drifts off to sleep, the Beasties pack up all their treasures and creep away, confident that their work is done.
This book which offers a clever “stories within a story” concept is the first collaboration of mother and daughter team Jenny Nimmo and Gwen Millward. Their collaboration does work well with text and illustrations working in harmony. There is a really magical, fairytale-like atmosphere to this lovely bedtime story, thanks mainly to the gorgeous artwork by Gwen Millward. The use of colour in the illustrations reflects the worlds being portrayed; the stories’ world is conveyed in seemingly paler, sometimes nearly washed-out, colours, giving it a dreamy feel whereas the “real” world is portrayed in much bolder and bright colours. But the text does help also at creating the fairytale-like atmosphere. Bold letters are used for emphasis, which I always find work really well with children, even those who don’t know how to read. They can always recognise it as a signal that there is going to be a change of tone or silly voices coming!
This book is a great advocate for the power of stories and how storytelling goes such a long way at making you feel safe. To many (and I know I am preaching to the converted here) there is so much solace and comfort to be found in favourite stories when times are hard or we feel insecure. But this lovely story also praises the power of the imagination and how children can find comfort in making up their own bedtime stories, to keep all their bedtime woes away. My daughter has done this ever since we have allowed her to keep her light on after stories to do her own reading. She would open a book, long before she could read, and make up her own stories. I have always been amazed at how she can tirelessly make up new stories but I also realised early on that this was her way of processing stuff, of making herself feel safe. And it is obvious in this story that Daisy feels the same way.
There are lots of little quirky details in the illustrations, and young children will spend some time pouring over those details. I especially liked that at the beginning of the book we see the corridor outside Daisy’s house and there on the wall is hanging a picture of Daisy, alone (but with her bunny). At the end of the book, you see the other side of the doorway and there hangs the same picture, but this time her mum and dad are also in the photograph, as though Daisy has finally accepted this as her family house.
A lovely bedtime story to snuggle to on those dark evenings, and an efficient antidote to all those little bedtime worries.
Sent for review by publisher.