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I would like to initially point out that the title of this product is slightly incorrect and a little misleading. The actual title for this publication by Il Sung Na is 'Zzzzz A Book of Sleep'.
When my little boy was given his latest Bookstart Pack at our local Health Clinic he was very excited. He is now approaching three years old and has adored books for as long as he has been able to sit up and grasp one. On our return home we eagerly emptied out the contents and out came a fabulous little board book, Zzzzz: A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na.
I personally adore this book for a number of reasons. It is one which I love to read to him and now my daughter too. The illustrations in particular are an absolute joy. I will explain in more detail a little later on.
A Book of Sleep is a smaller sized book, it is comparative in size to Fiona Watt's popular That's Not My... series of books and so perfect for little hands to comfortably hold on to. I have seen both of my children struggle with large books due to size and weight and this one is just perfect for them.
Being a board book of course makes it all the more suitable for small children as the pages are sturdier and difficult to damage. A paperback version however is also available.
Each page of this book has a glossy finish that I have never before seen in any of my children's vast collection. It is very shiny and almost has a varnished effect. This not only makes it rather attractive but also gives a look of very good quality. Another advantage of this kind of finish of course is that it can be easily wiped down. I know from experience that it is all too easy for a baby or toddler to damage books with food spillages and this one has so far remained in perfect condition.
Now onto my most favourite quality of this book, the illustrations, also by Il Sung Na. The front cover depicts a side shot of an owl with large glaring eyes. This owl appears throughout the book alongside many other beautifully designed characters.
The illustrations have a multi-layered effect. They are not simply solid base colours but instead have intricate doodle-like patterns beneath them. There are swirls, detailed flowers, paint splatters, sponge prints, dotted lines and objects in various colours simply within the colouring of each animal and object. There are further doodles and details within each picture, most of which are rather abstract and unexpected. It simply has to be seen with your own eyes in order to appreciate just how cleverly illustrated it is.
The story describes how when the night falls everyone goes to sleep, be it in an usual or unique way or place, apart from the owl that is. When the sun rises of course everyone wakes up, apart from the tired owl who then goes to sleep.
This storyline works on a number of levels. With the subject being about sleep it is a perfect book to read at bedtime. The words are relaxing and calming and there is just a little text on each page which means that we read it at a calm and relaxed pace.
It also has educational value. It teaches children about nocturnal animals and how they sleep differently to other animals, and indeed to us. It also gives information about how these animals sleep, for instance how the fish sleep with both eyes open and do not even blink and how the whale floats along with the water as he sleeps.
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na has an RRP of £3.99. It is available to buy at £3.59, a 10% reduction, from Amazon who also offer free delivery on this product.
I truly adore this book and more importantly so do my son and daughter. It is certainly one that I would highly recommend.
ZZZZZ A Book of Sleep is a picture book for the very young, suitable for bedtime, but not an actual story. Il Sung Na begins by pointing out that when it grows dark everyone goes to sleep except for the owl, shown here staring as he sits on a branch in front of a full moon.
Over the next few pages, double-spread illustrations show us that not all creatures sleep in the same way. Koala bears sleep in peace and quiet, whilst elephants snore noisily through their trunks. There are creatures that sleep standing up, and whales that sleep while they are swimming. We see birds sleeping with one eye open (watching what the owl is up to), and fish that keep both eyes open and don't even blink. Giraffes are pictured sleeping alone, resting their heads on cloud pillows, whereas penguins huddle up when they go to sleep to keep out the cold.
The book ends when all the creatures wake up at sunrise, apart from the owl, of course, who then needs to go to sleep until the sun sets again.
Il Sung Na has illustrated his book in a delightful way; my only reservation is that, since the scenes are set at night, the backgrounds are of necessity rather dark and might not be too appealing to young children. To alleviate this, Il Sung Na has decorated many of his creatures in pastel shades and floral patterns. The last two sets of double pages are set in bright sunshine, however. I particularly liked the scene showing all the animals waking up, where a row of birds perch on the giraffes neck, the Koala bear and her baby cling to the elephant's trunk and the penguins slide down the whale's forehead.
The text is in a very clear, large font, and there are never more than four lines to a page - in fact there is only one line on several pages. As well as being perfect for reading aloud to the very young, this could be a suitable book for young independent readers who are still gaining confidence and don't want to be put off by whole pages of text. There is a certain amount of repetition, and the illustrations will give clues to help in deciphering the words.
This is of course an excellent book for learning about the habits of various animals and for discussing the fact that there are so many different ways that a creature might sleep. I read it aloud to a group of three- to four-year-olds and as we went through the book I asked them to pretend to go to sleep with one eye open, then with both eyes open but without blinking. Not as easy as it sounds, they soon discovered.
For very young children this is obviously a picture book that lends itself perfectly to bedtime reading, and parents will hope that with all this talk of sleep their little ones will soon drop off. The paperback is perhaps a little expensive, but there is also a board-book version for £3.99.
ZZZZZ A Book of Sleep
by Il Sung Na
Meadowside Children's Books, 2007
Also posted on Ciao under my username denella.