Calm, Sleepy, Joyful Books

Calm, Sleepy, Joyful Books

Book Reviews by Joy in Books at PaperbarkWords blog

Most of these picture books are calm or sleepy books that help children relax and unwind. There is also an empathetic book about a grandma with dementia and a Play School Christmas book.

All the books are published by ABC Books, except one by HarperCollins.

A Very Play School Christmas by Jan Stradling, illustrated by Jedda Robaard  

Play School has aired for over 45 years and is the longest-running children’s show in television history.

A Very Play School Christmas celebrates a creative Australian Christmas with all the much-loved toys meeting in the park. Jemima hides Christmas treats for a ‘Christmas Surprise’ game. Humpty find colourful paper chains to decorate the tree, Kiya spots a box of wrapping paper and ribbon, Big Ted finds a recipe for Christmas pudding, Little Ted uncovers crackers and Joey spies a sparkly sack for the Christmas present lucky dip. They all make something for the sack before finding the last surprise – ‘A big star!’, which goes on top of the tree.

Children could do many of these activities themselves and make the inexpensive gifts as part of their own Christmas celebrations.

Play School: Breathe In and Out by Jan Stradling, illustrated by Jedda Robaard  

This picture book is from the new Play School ‘Mindfully Me’ series (published January 2023) to help young children and their friends, family and carers deal with life’s challenges.

In Breathe In and Out, Big Ted doesn’t feel like playing. He is quiet and feels ‘stormy’. His friends are understanding and find things to help. They build ‘a mindfulness cubby’, ‘a cosy place to relax your body and calm your mind’. Little Ted brings him lavender, basil and cinnamon sticks to smell; Kiya shows him a picture of the calm sea, which makes him think of ‘warm sparkles of light dancing across the cool waves …’; Jemima strums a ukulele; and Humpty shakes a jar of glitter and water and reminds Big Ted to take deep breathes while watching the glitter fall.

These activities will be helpful for everyone and are generally inexpensive and accessible.

Nice & Slow by Sarah Ayoub, illustrated by Mimi Purnell (HarperCollins)

This book has such a peaceful feel. It is an ideal circuit-breaker leading up to Christmas and gives many ideas for using holiday time well.

Let’s take today nice and slow,

Have a break from the go-go-go.

Spend some extra time in bed,

Release the worries in our head…

The pace slows with the family eating banana pancakes, lounging around and spending time together, watching the clouds, dancing, reading, planting, re-visiting loved toys and going screen-free.

Soothing activities kindle creativity and send the family outside into nature.

The muted colours in the illustrations and the relaxed poses of the family enhance the overall feeling of going ‘nice and slow’.

Sleep Through the Night by Byll & Beth Stephen, illustrated by Simon Howe

Sleep Through the Night by the Teeny Tiny Stevies, Aria-award winning musician mums, reminds children how to (and not to) sleep). They use well-chosen examples from nature to make their points.

Children need to close their eyes and lie quietly in their beds to sleep, unlike dolphins who sleep with their eyes open, giraffes who stand or birds who fly. There is a thoughtful reminder in the book not to wake others who may be sleeping in too!

Tjitji Lullaby by Michael Ross & Zaachariaha Fielding, illustrated by Lisa Kennedy

Lisa Kennedy’s exquisite, eye-catching cover sets this board book apart and her illustrations remain a highlight throughout.

Tjitji Lullaby is a stunning book to lull young children to sleep. ‘Tjitji’ means ‘child’ in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara languages, and the words addressed to ‘Tjitji’ throughout epitomise calm.

Tjitji – float me now

On the calmest of waters.

Tjitji – sleep is a present …

Dancing with Memories by Sally Yule with Professor Ralph Martins & Maggie Beer, illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

In a change of focus from the books above, Dancing with Memories features loving grandma Lucy who is determined to go to her granddaughter’s wedding but ‘sometimes I remember. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I remember that I forget. Sometimes I forget that I remember.’

Lucy has dementia but she is the same person inside. She is active, walks, prays, loves and is surrounded by love.

Dancing with Memories is a wise and thoughtful portrayal of dementia. Despite the condition, this is a book of love and joy, culminating in healthy recipes by much-loved chef, Maggie Beer.

Thanks to ABC Books/HarperCollins for sending these books for review.

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