GLEESON, Libby (text) Freya Blackwood (illus.) Go to Sleep, Jessie! Little Hare, 2014 unpaged $24.95 ISBN 9781742977805 SCIS 1684085
The relationship between a child and her younger sibling is a popular theme amongst picture books because it resonates with so many, and one that dynamic duo, Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood, so beautifully portray here. The child narrating the story is in despair for having to share her bedroom with her screaming baby sister, Jessie. Especially at bedtime. Not a cuddle with T-bear, a nappy change and gentle song by Mum, or Dad’s soothing music and car ride around the block will settle Jessie. We feel the narrator’s frustration mounting as she stomps through the story, tossing, turning and unable to sleep. Finally, Jessie’s screaming ceases when, in a truly touching ending, the baby gets the tenderness and comfort that she needs.
Gleeson’s gentle phrasing is so effectively descriptive and emotive. Perfectly complemented are Freya Blackwood’s distinct sketched drawings and watercolours, and carefully crafted facial expressions and movement. With varied page layouts, including sequential vignettes that depict the continual action in the storyline, the illustrations are both visually appealing and encourage pre-reading skills. Blackwood’s contrasting colour palette of orange and blue cleverly define the exasperation and calm felt by the girls. This is a reassuring and heartwarming tale of love and togetherness that will engage any early childhood reader. Teacher’s Notes are available on the Hardie Grant website. Highly recommended.
reviewed by Romi Sharp