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BEDTIME DADDY! By Sharon Giltrow and Katrin Dreiling gets 7/10


Bedtime Daddy!
By Sharon Giltrow and Katrin Dreiling
EK Books

7/10

EK Books’ brand new picture book, Bedtime Daddy!, written by local author Sharon Giltrow and illustrated by Katrin Dreiling, is a topsy turvy look at one of the most turbulent of all family routines…bedtime!

Giltrow turns the tables on young readers by detailing clear instructions on how to get their cheeky, procrastinating, and just plain silly daddy into bed and, more importantly, to sleep. Brightly coloured pencil drawings by Dreiling that are dripping with school-age scribbly charm accompany this unique take on a bedtime story. There’s plenty in here for the bedtime story reader and their young audience to have a chuckle at.

Regular readers of children’s picture books will be well aware that a relatable narrative and fun pictures are not enough to raise a bedtime story to the hallowed position of a repeated nighttime read, and all too often books can remain on the shelf because they just miss the mark when it comes to building a connection. Bedtime Daddy! pitches itself as a strong competitor for regular rotation by using humour that is attractive to both an adult reader and an attentive child.

The opening page explains when it’s time for kids to announce “Bedtime Daddy!”, and the accompanying illustration depicts a yawning Daddy Bear, feet up on a home office desk with a giant coffee cup by his side – something that these days, more of us can relate to than ever. From here we’re lead through the various stages of getting an “unruly Daddy” to bed.

There’s some observational comedy gold in these pages for parents, while kids will laugh at the sheer silliness of Daddy Bear wearing his pyjamas on his head and belly-flopping onto the bed. Older readers will have a quiet chuckle at snippets like “Watch as he tries to spit into the sink but misses,” and being caught out for skipping pages of the second bedtime story in order to finish more quickly (we’ve all done it).

The importance of simplicity and rhythm in stories that are intended to be read aloud is often something overlooked by picture book authors. Parents rarely come back to books that had them stuttering and backpedalling, even if the kids want them to. Though not quite as conducive to being read out loud as similar books which employ a familiar rhyming scheme, Bedtime Daddy! has a lighthearted charm to it that keeps things moving along at a steady pace.

Dreiling’s illustrations give time to break up the reading with constant pauses for “Look at that!” and little breaks for laughter and Giltrow succeeds because this book reads like an amusing instruction manual and there is something to smile about on every page.

Bedtime Daddy! is a great book that could well become a family bedtime favourite. Particularly if it’s Dad who’s doing the reading and he’s willing to be the butt of the jokes for a little while. That’s what dad is for though, right?

TONY WESTWOOD

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