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Peace at Last is a story as much aimed at parents as children. Mr Bear is desperately trying to sleep, Mrs Bear snores heavily, baby bear is making lots of noise of his own, as Mr Bear tries to find a place to sleep in every room of the house, he is thwarted by nature, electrical appliances or his family.
We've all been here at some point, this is a book that shows poor Mr Bear moving to all kinds of extremes to get some sleep.
The book itself is a large paperback and although aimed at children of 3 years and older our little one loves it at 2. The book is a perfect size for little hands to take in the pictures and pretend they are a clever little reader, although we do often have to turn the book around so it is the right way up without wishing to crush our little ones sense of achievement.
Available from Amazon and other retailers, we got a copy for £3.79. The book has 24 pages and is beautifully illustrated with lots of detail. Parents will take delight in reading this story as it is amusing and we've probably all experienced it, while Children will love the fact the story relates to animals and provides recurring noises and themes.
This is a perfect little bed time story for discussing the difficulties we all have sleeping sometimes, it is well written, funny, illustrated perfectly with colour and detail and is very thorough.
Peace At Last is a childrens story written and illustrated by Jill Murphy. Jill Murphy is also well known for creating The Worst Witch series of books and The Large Family picture books. Peace At Last was first published in 1980 and is a book which I have fond memories of reading with my parents when I was a child.
The book is A4 size and paperback. The front cover (and pages) are quite thin unfortunately, so make sure you look after your copy! On the front cover is a large and rather cute picture of Mr and Mrs bear tucked up in bed.
The story is fun and simple. It begins at night time, all of the Bear family are tired and decide to go to bed. Mrs Bear falls to sleep straight away but her loud snoring prevents Mr Bear from sleeping, so he tries to sleep in Baby Bears bedroom but his aeroplane noises are too noisy, so he goes to the living room to try to sleep but the clock is tick-tocking too loudly, so he goes to sleep in the kitchen but the kitchen tap drips too much and the fridge hums too loudly. Mr Bear decides to sleep in the garden but there are all sorts of noises - an twit-twooing owl, a snuffling hedgehog, a meowing cat. Mr Bear finally begins to get to sleep in his cold and uncomfortable car when the birds begin to sing and the sun shines through his window, so he goes back indoors where Baby Bear is asleep and Mrs Bear is no longer snoring. He gets in to bed, closes his eyes before muttering the book title to himself 'Peace at last'. Very soon after the alarm clock goes off and Mrs Bear asks a tired Mr Bear if he had a good night! She brings a tired Mr Bear a cup of tea in bed, whilst Baby Bear jumps on the bed with the mornings post (I like the fact that although Mr Bear has had a terrible night and is very tired, he still has a smile on his face. I don't think I would have been so forgiving!).
The illustrations are lovely and enjoyable to look at. Each page has a full colourful picture and there are even black and grey pictures on the text pages (these give you more of an idea of what Mr Bear is getting up to).
My daughter (who is now 5) regularly asks for this book at bedtimes and has done so for a couple of years. It's just the right length and it's a nice, enjoyable, easy going story for settling down to. My daughter is usually captivated until the end and giggles at Mr Bears attempts at finding some peace. As she has now begun reading, she is also interesting in helping me read the book - there is a lot of repetition and a lot of small words (E.g. was, and, the, baby, so, all, bed, to, fell, this, went, he, went, in, be, got, up, cats, car, off, cold, birds, at, sun, cup, she, did) which is great for beginners. I think this book would be enjoyed best between 2-6 years. I also enjoy this story for nostalgic reasons.
Peace At Last is available at most good book shops and book schemes and the RRP is £5.99, but you can usually find it cheaper in most places. I thoroughly recommend!
SYNOPSIS: Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear are all tired, so they decide to go up to bed. Except Mr Bear can't get to sleep - first he's kept awake by Mrs Bear's snoring, so he decides to sleep in Baby Bear's room, but Baby Bear isn't asleep either and is pretending to be an aeroplane. So, we follow Mr Bear from room to room - and finally into the garden - as he attempts to find peace at last.
LENGTH: 24 pages
AGES: 3 and over (but my 2 year old loves it)
MY VIEW: I suppose, when reviewing children's books, it's not really my opinion that counts, but that of the child reader. However, I think my toddler will agree that this is a fantastic book. It's pleasantly large (26.4 x 21 x 0.6 cm) and the pages are shiny and excellent quality. The text is set out clearly on the left hand pages (with small, incidental illustrations) and the right hand pages are given over to beautiful, rich images.
I read a lot of books to my toddler but this one's become a firm favourite and it's one of the first she's pretty much learned by rote. It's an amazing thing when a young child begins to repeat a story, as you know there's some magic at work! I think what makes this book so marvellous is that it's not too long - I often struggle with books for the 2-year age group. There are hundreds of picture books out there but many are just that bit too long. Attention spans are pretty finite at this age - and, at the end of the day, when I'm reading a bedtime story, I don't want it to go on forever! Peace at Last is perfect in this respect - it's got enough of a story to hold an adult's attention (without making you think, 'Oh no, not another night of reading this dirge'!) but isn't too long that a toddler's gaze will start wandering.
There is repetition in the book - 'Oh no' says Mr Bear, 'I can't stand THIS' and then he gets up and tries to find somewhere else to sleep. It's this repetition and inflection that my little girl picked up first. Also, when she initially went to nursery, we'd say 'mummy and daddy always come back,' and she would reply, 'And you did' - it was a very sweet and emphatic response and I finally twigged that this may have come from the last part of the book where Mrs Bear offers to make Mr Bear a nice cup of tea, with the book concluding, 'And she DID'. So, if a parent every needs proof that reading pays off and helps with language and speech development, I think I discovered it via this particular book.
Of course, another important factor with children's books are the illustration. Some books I find too busy, others don't quite have enough going on in the pictures. Peace at Last hits the perfect balance. The pictures are beautiful (almost like watercolour images) and there's enough going on in them to talk about, but not too much. Often my little girl will say that she wants to read her books 'by myself'. Peace at Last is ideal as the illustrations very clearly tell the story. And there are lovely nuances, like three hearts cut into the wood on the staircase, and my daughter counts these. We've also developed a running joke with this book - in one of the illustrations, Mrs Bear is yawning and my daughter initially thought her tongue was a biscuit. She would shout, 'It's a bicbic' and I'd say, 'It's a tongue'. This can go on for a fair while, until I say, 'It's a bicbic' and she says, 'Yes'. Of course, many books can give rise to such in jokes etc, but when it happens, it's wonderful. And, for this reason, it's made Peace at Last even more special for me.
The hour was late and Mr Bear was tired. But he could not sleep-however he tried and wherever he tried. Snore snore went Mrs Bear, tick-tock, tick tock went the clock, would he never get to sleep? So begins the story of peace at last by Jill Murphy.
Unable to sleep Mr Bear goes into baby Bears room. Baby bear isn't asleep either and is pretending to be an aeroplane! Mr Bear goes into the kitchen but the leaky tap and hum of the fridge isn't helpful either!
Outside in the garden Mr Bear settles down to try to get some much needed sleep, but the snuffling of a hedgehog and miaaowing of the neighbourhood cats doesn't allow this! Next he tried to sleep in his car, but the dawn chorus starts and keeps him awake.
Mr Bear eventually goes back into the house and to his own bed. Mrs Bear has stopped snoring and baby Bear is now fast asleep, so he gets some peace at last! However just as he settles down to sleep the alarm clock goes off. Mrs Bear asks how he slept and Mr Bear tells her that it wasn't very well. Mrs Bear offers to make him a nice cup of tea.
This is a very simple tale that will appeal to young children. It is a fairly short story making it idea bedtime reading. The illustrations are big and bright with added black and white line drawings on every page. We have the paperback version of this book at its RRP is £3.99.
Although my children are now much too old to appreciate this book, when they were younger it was a favourite. Once they started to read independently this was a book they could read easily s there is a lot of repetition.
Overall I highly recommend this lovely story to anyone with young children!
Another book I used to love as a child is one called 'Peace At Last' which was written by the author Jill Murphy who also wrote the 'Worst Witch' series, as well as lot of other books for young children. This book was released in the seventies (I think) and is currently available to buy as a paperback version from Amazon for a price of £3.00 which I think is excellent value.
In this book : Mr Bear, is having trouble sleeping. Mrs Bear is snoring too loudly and keeping him awake. He tries Little Bear's room, but he is also awake and pretending to be an aeroplane. Mr Bear tries to get to sleep in different rooms in the house, but each time a noise is keeping him up! Will he finally get to sleep? Read Peace At Last to find out!
Aww! I used to love this book as a child! I remember I first heard it at school and thought that it was great! When I was younger I used to find the story to be really interesting, and found the fact that Mr Bear couldn't sleep very funny, although now, I actually feel sorry for Mr Bear, because I myself always have trouble getting to sleep and so I know how he feels!
This is story is very simple yet so effective! At thirty six pages long, it sounds quite long, but you will be suprised at how fast you will fly through the story, and it keeps children entertained all the way through, which is good! It is the kind of story, that as a child would make you feel 'safe'. It's a perfect bedtime story as it
This is the kind of book that children can get involved with and so they will love it! They will particularly enjoy joining in with the sound of the noises that keep keeping Mr Bear awake, such as the 'tick tock' of the clock.
There are some really cool pictures in this book. I found the illustrations are very helpful in showing younger children who can't yet read what is going on in the story! Slightly older children (this book i suitable for children ages 4-8) will be pleased to show off and be able to read the book themselves.
I would definatley recommend this book! It would make a perfect Christmas stocking filler for children under the age of eight.
Thanks for reading!
November 25th 2010
xd-o-n-z-x (also posted on ciao under xdonzx)
The kids and I have been reading this book for a couple of years now. Initially being read by me (or dad...if home!) and more recently it has been read by the girls themselves.
Peace at last is written by Jill Murphy. She also wrote the fantastic Worst Witch series and other kids favourites such as 'Five Minutes More' and' Dear Hound'. She is also an accomplished illustrator.
For all you budding authors out there a word to warm your soul. Three publishers turned down her first Worst Witch novel, but after being published when she was 24 the book sold out immediately. Ha, Ha to the big publishers that turned it down aka Harry Potter!
We have the cardboard version which measures 13.5 x 16.5 cm when closed and there are 25 pages. They are a great size for little fingers and it is very durable - we have had ours a couple of years now.
The first page has a picture of baby bear in his stripy blue pajamas pretending to write on a 'This Book Belong To...' notice board stuck on a fridge. Unfortunately I was brought up not to write in books even when encouraged to do so. The result is my kids haven't filled this bit in. I think it is possibly time to stop turning into my mother and let then write their name - what do you think?
Anyway I digress. Each page is beautifully illustrated, even the ones with words on. I particularly like Mr. Bear's sideways glance at his wife when he has to leave the room because of her snoring. Funnily enough in our house it's always the other way round!
Although this is book aimed at young children the frustration and desperation Mr. Bear goes through trying to find somewhere to sleep is tangible and you end up feeling quite sorry for him. He tries his room, Baby Bears room, the living room, kitchen, garden and garage all without success.....see I told you you would feel sorry for him didn't I!
The RRP on the back of our copy is £4.99 but we got ours from The Cut-price Bookstore for £2.50. But as search on Amazon shows the full RRP is now £5.99 with there's retailing for £3.00 (a 50% saving)
Would I recommend it
Yes, Yes, Yes. As with all good books aimed at this audience it has that great repeating element. In this case
"Oh, NO!" said Mr. Bear,
"I can't stand THIS."
So even if your little ones can't read they soon learn these words and can contribute to the story telling process.
This is a great addition to your child's bookshelf and I give it a wholehearted 5 Dooyoo stars
My kids have had this book for years and it is always popular at bedtime.
It is written by Jill Murphy, published by Macmillan and I bought it for £4.99- although this was a few years ago!
The story is about the Bear family and Mr. Bear is having trouble drifting off to sleep.Everyone else has managed to go to sleep but all the different night time sounds are keeping him awake.
Mr. Bear goes from room to room in the hope of finally finding peace and quiet but has no luck, he even tries sleeping in the car and in the garden but just as he is finally able to fall asleep he realises that it is time to get up again!
This story is very entertaining, the bags under Mr Bears eyes are getting bigger and bigger as the night goes on. There is quite a lot of text on each page but the story flows easily and it is easy to keep the kids interested. Mr Bear keeps repeating "I can't stand this!" so the kids can join in as well. The kids can also guess what noise is going to keep him awake next.
The illustrations are good and they help to set the scene perfectly. Every page has a picture on and the text is just printed over the image. Some of the pictures are black and white and some are in colour which adds depth to the story as it seems more serious. There are lots of different things to discuss in each of the pictures as well.
There are 13 pages containing text and the remaining 23 pages are the illustrations and the book dedications.
I would recommend this book as it is a fun story. I used to point to the bags under Mr Bears eyes and tell the kids that that was what they would look like if they didn't go straight to sleep! On a more serious note though it is also a good way for learning about animals which are nocturnal. It is also a good way to explain about the senses.
This is a wonderful, wonderful book. The scenario is one that any father knows well: Mr Bear can't get to sleep and nowhere offers him the peace he needs. His wife snores, his child wants to play, and everywhere he tries there is something making enough noise to keep him awake. Finally things settle down...and drrrrrring, it's time to start the day!
The illustrations are beautiful. They're large and clearly drawn, but with enough going on that they'll appeal to children for many years. The text is in large print and the book would appeal to goldilocks - not too short so that you finish before you get into it, and not too long so that your child will lose interest.
We bought the book before my daughter was born and my wife has read it to her ever since. She's now one year old, and it's wonderful to see her eyes light up when we get it off the shelf. The only downside is that it's a paperback. After a year we're now ready for a new copy and will put this one aside to give her as a souvenir when she's older. I can't recommend this book enough - it'll become a favourite in any family.
Peace at last is a wonderful book that was another one of my children's favourites and as you can probably tell I am working my way through them. This is another one I would recommend to add to your child's collection.
It is written and illustrated by Jill Murphy.
Mr Bear is trying to get to sleep but Mrs Bear is snoring (I like how they have done this the other way around!) so he goes to try and get to sleep in Baby Bears room but he is pretending to be an aeroplane, he then tries other rooms but the clock is ticking and the fridge is buzzing.
Each time he shouts 'I can't stand THIS' Eventually after he has tried everywhere in the house he ends up in his car which is cold and uncomfortable and early birds start singing so he decides to try and go back to bed. He settles down eventually stating 'Peace at Last' but after only a short few minutes the morning alarm goes off.
Poor Mr Bear.
Mrs Bear asks if he has had a nice sleep and brings him a lovely cup of tea in bed. (Typical British way, alls well with a good old cuppa)
My children love this book and again it is one of those books where they can join in and make all the noises that comes with it, they sit there in anticipation waiting to make the loudest ticking or plane noise they can.
For the ages of 3 and 6 I think these types of books are more engaging when they can be a part of the story as it keeps their interest longer, as well as the repetitive side of it also.
It also makes the children listen to all the different sounds in our home that they may not have stopped to listen to before. My bathroom has a ticking clock which is next to my daughter's room, they had never really realised that the fridge actually made a noise and so on. It makes them study their surroundings more. They also would discuss what other sounds could have possibly kept Mr Bear awake.
The words are big and bold and would be easy for an early reader to follow. The pictures are clear, cute and colourful and the facial expressions can be quite comical and at times I know how he feels about sleep deprivation! There is many a time when everyone at one point or another feel like they have just gone to sleep before the alarm goes off.
Overall I would recommend this book but maybe not for an insomniac!
When our son was a baby, we had a number of books bought for us or acquired, and we made sure that even though he was just a baby, we read to him, just so he heard our voices. As he grew bit by bit, he started liking a couple of books more than others. Now, he's 6, and likes reading on his own, and mainly things like Ben 10, Astrosaurs and his My First Questions and Answers book. Back then, however, this little piece of magic was his favourite.
The book we have is a board book, so each page is like a hardback book cover. The front cover shows a couple of bears in bed, sleeping, but once you read the story, you'll see it doesn't start out that way. The bears are Mr and Mrs Bear, and their son, Baby Bear. It's bedtime, but Mr Bear just can't get to sleep, try as he might. The book follows him going from room to room, encountering problems such as a dripping tap or his son pretending to be an aeroplane or his wife snoring, eventually taking him outside before bringing him back in to bed again.
It's a lovely tale, and it's nice the way that Jill Murphy manages to incorporate a natural flow of words that don't sound harsh when you say them. Soft sounds are key at bedtime, and it's definitely a tale that will make you feel sleepy, as all it does it talk about how someone is trying to go to sleep, but can't despite the fact that he is very sleepy.
The Bear family are lovingly drawn, with soft contours and colours providing even more reason for this to be a great bedtime book. The bears are more like cuddly teddy bears than ones you'd find in a wood, and although it's only really Mr Bear who features in the book, you do get to find out about the rest of the family a bit if you read the follow up to this, Whatever Next?
Murphy is perhaps best known for her The Worst Witch series of books, but this book is a lovely one for kids to have by their bedside. The illustrations are involving, and there aren't actually that many words. The text is quite large, and it would be a great book to get your toddler to start following the words to if you run your finger along them while they're listening to you read them. Our son remembers all the words (or used to!) as he must have heard the story dozens of times, but he never tired of it, and it always got him sleepy with a smile, and that's the most important thing.
Peace At Last is great in board book format, but is available in other forms as well, such as hardback and paperback, and of different sizes. I highly recommend this and her other similarly targeted books (of which there are plenty). You can get a copy for £3.97 from amazon.co.uk at the moment, which is a very good price for a lovely kids' book. Recommended.
My 4 year old daughter came home with this book to read for homework as she does every week. When she took it out her book bag I started to giggle and got excitement butterflies in my stomach. When she asked why I was giggling like a kid, I explained to her that when I was a small child this was one of my favourite books. I have fond memories of my Dad reading it to me which wasn't very often so when he did I really appreciated it. I couldn't wait to start reading the book to my daughter. After the book was finished she said to me, wow mum that's a really good book isn't it, it reminds me of you, you can never sleep at night for my sister.(Bless her.) So seen as we both enjoyed this book I thought I would write a review on it and share it with you.
The book is all bout one bear who cant sleep. Three guesses it would have to Mr Bear!! Typical man a? (just kidden on guys). The family of 3 Mr Bear, Mrs Bear, and baby bear headed to bed one night as its getting late. Mrs Bear falls asleep quickly but for some reason Mr Bear just couldn't sleep. (I think he had insomnia) He end up disturbed by various different things throughout the night. Poor Mr Bears sleep ends up getting interrupted but including Mrs Bear snoring, baby bear playing and the tap dripping. Once he finally gets comfortable after ended up back in his own bed, he shuts his eyes and the alarm bell starts ringing. (Typical or what?:)
There is what looks like a lot of text but there actually isn't all that much. The writing is bold and rather big which gives the illusion that there is a lot but in reality there isn't. The text in this book is actually quite clever in my opinion. It lets you animate the story with your voice which makes it more fun for the child, as it lets them join in on the words and makes them come to recognise the words when looking at the book with its big capital letters.
The illustrations I have to admit are quite cute, I mean come on fluffy cute bears what is not to love. They look sweet and innocent, not like they are about to eat you kind of bears. They actually look quite cuddly bears, perfect for bed time reading. Getting away from my fascination with bears, each page is framed, with coloured picture to the right and a small black and white on the left. I'm not too sure the reason for this but the book is lovely illustrated, there is no taking that away from the book.
Once I had opened the book and started reading to my 4 year old daughter Courtney, the enjoyment of the story came straight back. It was just as good if not better than I had once remembered. Courtney and I had great fun repeating the sounds that kept poor old Mr Bear awake and enjoyed looking at the pictures together.
After the book had finished, it made me realise that book simply told story that I think most people can familiarize with. You can feel Mr Bear's frustration being kept awake all night and desperately needing some sleep, and one he closes his eye its time to get up. As my daughter said its just like me being kept awake with her 2 year old sister Cassidy, I couldn't help but laugh.
I would rate this book full marks of 5 out of 5 as not only did I enjoy it from when I was a child but my daughter loves it too. Something we enjoy doing together and its easy for her to lean words to help her to read. I would recommend this to anyone with small children or even if you're a kid at heart like me and want to bring back childhood memories. Thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is very much appreciated. I hope that my review is of some use to you and if your interested in buying the book the information is listed as below. Thanks again.
If you are looking to buy the book it normally costs around £4.99 from Amazon. However you can also get new and used ones from £1.75 and eBay varies but can normally pick them up from 99p at auction. The ISBN code is: 0-333-63198-6 The book was first published in 1980 by Macmillan Children's books but this revised edition published
Bedtime stories are an important part of our daily routine. As I work fulltime I think that one of the nicest parts of my day is snuggling up with my daughter and reading her stories at bedtime some nights I can read upto six short story books. This is one of the popular ones.
This was one of my daughters first ever proper story books and has been a hit since she was around 12 months old.
The story follows a tired daddy bear who desperately wants to get to sleep but wherever he goes in his house he is unable to find peace to get some shut eye. Its a funny little tale and you feel sorry for poor Mr Bear!
The book has the repeating lines in it that I really like in a childrens book something that children can pick up on almost after the first time of reading the book and read along with you even the really small ones.
The illustrations are lovely and the pictures are on one page and the text on the other which I like as children can look at the pictures while you read the text without hogging the book.
Again as I have said in my other reviews I do like a board book for toddlers they are built to last the trials of a toddler.
I would strongly recommend this book for a lovely snuggly bedtime read!
Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear and Baby Bear are all very tired and so retire for the night, however for some this is where the action starts! My son is now in year 2 at primary school and they have a weekly trip to the school library where they have a free choice of a book to take home for the week to read and enjoy with parents, my son chose "Peace at Last" by Jill Murphy.
Peace at Last is written and illustrated by Jill Murphy, it is a book that is great for bedtime reading but also suitable at other times, we read the story at various times over the week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The basic plot surrounds poor Daddy Bear and his inability to get to sleep, it all starts with Mummy Bear's snoring and goes through the whole house in Daddy Bear's quest for a good night's sleep, we are in Baby Bear's room, the living room, the garden and even the car, but poor daddy can find no peace. We can all sympathise with Daddy Bear and all have had nights when it just seems impossible to get over to sleep and where every little noise seems even louder and very annoying.
The book is set at night and introduces us to lots of familiar areas but from the perspective of the night time scene, dark, quiet but also active and noisy. There is nothing scary in the book, indeed it is a good way to discuss with your child any fears of the dark or night time. The illustrations are very good and they definitely portray the night scape, we looked for stars, the moon, the darkness, and shadows, sometimes these are frightening to children but the book shows them very subtly and they appear friendly.
The book is not rhyming but there are some pages with onomatopoeic words that the child can say, the sound of Mummy Bear snoring, the meow of the cat the brrrr of the alarm clock. My son is only learning to read but he could pick these words out on the page and made the noise at the appropriate times, the sound words are in bold and large letters. The overall impression of the story is quite gentle with some humour and we do feel sorry for poor Daddy Bear. This is a book that we had for a week and my son thoroughly enjoyed reading it with me, definitely a snuggle up book. I would definitely recommend this lovely book, and so would my son.
Peace at last is a young childrens book written by Jill Murphy. It was first published in 1980 so some of you might even remember it from your childhood. It is such a popular story that it is still around today and is on quite a rew 'recommended reading' lists for children.
We actually received this book in a Bookstart pack which is an educational pack that is issued to children at 8months, 18months and 3 years to help get them interested in reading.
The book follows the story of Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear as they settle down to bed one night.
'Mr Bear was tired.
Mrs Bear was tired
Baby Bear was tired...
...so they all went to bed.'
Mrs Bear and Baby Bear fell to sleep but whatever he did, Mr Bear just couldn't drop off. The story follows him as he trys to settle in various rooms but something always manages to keep him awake. Eventually he ends up sleeping in the car but just as he is dropping off, the birds come out to sing - typical! He makes his way back to bed just in time for the alarm to go off, so Mrs Bear makes hima cup of tea to help start his day.
A lovely tale which is just repetitive enough for young children to join in without being too repetitive that it drives us nuts!
The are 13 pages with writing on although the majority has only one or two lines so it is quite a quick read yet the story is substantial enough to help little ones on their way to sleep.
I would high;y recommend this story for preschool children of any age. My son received this book when he was 18 months old and he still loves it at 4 and a half years old so it is well worth the purchase price.
I noticed that it is listed on here at £16.99 but that is ridiculous as the back of the book only states £4.99. Nowadays there are plenty of reduced priced bookshops around so there is no need to pay anything over £10 for any childrens book.
Jill Murphy's 'Peace at Last' is the story of Mr Bear's quest for a quiet night's sleep. The book appears to feature the three bears of Goldilocks fame: Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear, who are first seen at the end of the day, very sleepy, then making their way up the stairs to bed.
Mrs Bear falls asleep straight away, but she begins to snore heavily and sleep therefore eludes Mr Bear. He decides to go and spend the night in his son's room, but finds Baby Bear still wide awake, playing aeroplanes and making 'NYAAOW' noises. So it's back downstairs for Mr Bear, where he goes from the living-room to the kitchen to the garden, but each place has its annoying noises that foil his attempts to go to sleep. He eventually tries the car, finds it cold and uncomfortable but begins to drift off. Almost immediately, the sound of the birds and the strong sunshine disturb him. He goes back to his own bed where he does find 'Peace at Last' as Mrs Bear has stopped snoring. But how much time is left before the alarm clock rings?
Mrs Bear brings her husband a 'nice cup of tea', unaware of his sleepless night. Baby Bear is of course full of beans first thing in the morning, and jumps on his parents' bed, brandishing the post. Poor Mr Bear is not amused.
Although sleepless nights are perhaps a problem that affects adults more than children, this is a good book to enjoy reading aloud together, and young children find the idea of trying to sleep in the garden or the kitchen amusing enough. I've recently read this story to a small group of four-year-olds and asked them afterwards to try to remember all the different places where Mr Bear tried to go to sleep and what noise disturbed him in each of those places. I was impressed that they remembered the snoring, the aeroplane noises, the cuckoo clock, the drip of a leaky tap, the hum of the fridge, the sound of the animals and birds in the garden, everything in fact except for the alarm clock.
Jill Murphy's illustrations for her picture books are always of the highest standard and have obviously had a great deal of time, thought and care devoted to them. My only comment on the illustrations in 'Peace at Last' is that they are of necessity all in rather gloomy colours because the story takes place during the night. They do not lack in quality in any way, but they may not appeal to young children quite as much as more brightly coloured pictures would.
The full-page illustrations are in each case on the right-hand-side of a double page, with a small amount of text and one or two miniature black-and-white drawings adding information on the facing left-hand page. One or two of the left-hand pages actually feature white text on a black background to emphasise the idea that the story takes place at night.
'Peace at Last' is primarily a story to be read aloud to children aged from around two-and-a-half to five-years-old. As the amount of text on each page is not too daunting and the facing illustrations give obvious clues as to what is happening, this might make a suitable book for a young reader aged five to seven who is gaining in confidence. I have recently said that it is hard to go wrong with David Melling, and I would certainly say the same about Jill Murphy.
Peace at Last
by Jill Murphy
Macmillan Children's Books, 2007
Paperback, 36 pages
Price £5.99 (Amazon £3.59)