Children’s Book Review: Review: Bedtime Story

we have to talk about bedtime story. We really need to talk about it: in small groups around the water cooler, when we pick up the kids from school, while biking through city streets, and while kayaking down raging rivers. Okay, maybe not that last one.

But still, we have to talk about it.

Chloe Hooper’s husband has been diagnosed with an aggressive life-threatening disease and their children are quite young, only 3 and 6 years old. So, she asks an important and timeless question: How do we talk to children about death in a way that leaves them loving life?

It’s probably important to say that while this isn’t a children’s book, Hooper’s personal journey of discovery leans into the above question throughout, exploring children’s writing and writers in every way you can imagine and some. no. The writing is impressive. Just the right pace.

Once upon a time

your father was found

Lost in the forest.

This nonfiction narrative contains moments of delicate, tender, and exquisitely crafted poetry that is superbly supported by illustrator Anna Walker’s blurry, abstract, and highly moving watercolors. These are rendered in simple shades of gray and black.

Then out of nowhere

A narrow track appeared.

He started following him.

He is following you.

We are following it.

Where it will lead we don’t know…

Hooper takes us on a journey farther than even the clouds or the magical lands of Once Upon a Time. She invites us to visit mythical creatures and fractured tales that belong to other times and places, as she guides us through her husband’s very real and traumatic diagnosis of a rare, likely incurable cancer.

The book is written for his eldest son, who is 6 then 7 years old at the time of writing. This alone is enough to get rid of the first few paragraphs, but I bravely read on. If she can write it, I can read it. And the thing is, I can. me they can
Read it because it’s so real, raw, sincere, curious, inquisitive, flawed, delicious, charming, messy, bold, orderly and chaotic, that it grabs me in not just one but many places at once.

I’m not ashamed to say that there are times when I cry. For the children. For adults. for the humanity

And there are times when I laugh. Because the beauty and joy is palpable.

I gasp and hold my breath in places, at the sheer magic and impossibility of what is on the page; language and imagery. Walker’s sporadically placed watercolor illustrations are a quiet, intense character of tremendous importance. Like the deliberate placement of poetry, these images create moments of exquisite depth and beauty as they reach the page and then disappear.

Sometimes there will be a little black curl, right in the bottom corner or around the last word or two in a sentence,

like an ocean wave

in a rough sea.

In others, the incessant torrential rain

and gloomy outlook

they are a murky and relentless visual force on the page,

cutting and blocking those words we want so desperately

to stop.

Or to change tracks.

Or have a different shape.

We need to talk about this book.

We need to talk about the searing honesty and courage of a mother who articulates her mistaken belief that a 3-year-old is too young to be affected by his father’s illness.

To talk about human beings whose fierce and consuming love for their family is palpably and demonstrably depicted over and over again.

About the little birds that nest.

We need to talk about children who are affected by death, and who need the space, the words, and the permission to feel their feelings and feel safe, supported, alive, angry, and happy as they walk this disorienting path.

We have to talk about happy childhoods. And the soft but very defined guide that this work of art offers us.

Tune back in this afternoon to see the turmoil. book trailer by bedtime stories and stay tuned for more Chloe Hooper features.

Title: bedtime story
Author: chloe hooper
Illustrator: walking ana
Editor: Simon and Schuster, $34.99
Publication date: May 2022
Format: Pocket book
ISBN: 9781761103513
By ages: 16+
Write: adult book

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