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A peaceful way to end the day with your little one
Peace at Last - Jill Murphy
Member Name: deedee610
Peace at Last - Jill Murphy
Advantages: beautifully illustrated; engaging story; wonderful rhythm to the words
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.
Summary: A magical book for toddlers
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