This slightly quirky book makes a good bedtime read and has a nice little message tucked neatly between the pages.
Ben, a little boy with a wobbly tooth, goes to bed only to find that he is repeatedly disturbed by all manner of people. First along is the Sandman, spinning dreams followed closely by a rather abrupt Tooth Fairy, two wailing nervous ghosts, the "thing under the bed" and an out of season Father Christmas. All Ben wants to do is to go to sleep.
Ross Collins is an illustrator and this is his first book as both author and illustrator. The illustrations are wonderfully detailed and really make the book come alive. The story is strong but this is a book to sit and read with your child rather than simply telling them the story.
I did find that certain parts of the story needed to be explained in order for a child to make sense of the story. The Sandman, in particular, caused some confusion and the Tooth Fairy was not quite what you'd expect and pretty far removed from the pink-laced sweetie that most of us would imagine. The ending was also a little abrupt and would probably need to be explained to younger children which is a shame as it is in the ending that the moral lies: if you have night-time fears you CAN banish them.
Ben's character is very matter of fact and I felt that this was a good touch and will help children relate to him. Forget girl-power, this is child-power!
The print style adds to the slightly spooky nature of the book but the child I read this with found it difficult to follow. There was also an annoying inconsistency with the style of the letter "a" that was used with a curly "a" used for speech and a standard "a" used at other times.
The one alert I would add is the slightly course use of language. The Tooth Fairy is a gutsy lass and tells the Sandman to "Bog off" and refers to grabbing a "gobful" of teeth. Possibly not to everyone's taste.
Despite its flaws this book has proved popular in our household and with a bit of creative storytelling it really does come alive. It could be useful for teaching children about their nighttime fears and is an alternative to some of the more "sweet" bedtime books.
NB: Parts of this review were originally written for and published by a parenting magazine