When I first had a thought to do reviews for books aimed at babies/young children, I felt like it would be more interesting and helpful to focus on more recently published works. Works we never had as kids and that deserve a bit of attention rather than the solid classics.
Despite that, tripping down memory lane with some of these amazing books has just been so much fun; legitimate, childish fun I can have without embarrassment since I am, after all, reading to my little boy. As it turns out, the pull of nostalgia is far too strong, as will be the need to write a little something about my all-time favourites as we go along.
Horrifyingly, in this case I had never actually heard of Peggy Rathman’s Goodnight, Gorilla growing up. I say horrifyingly; this is an American book and I was a little old when it was published in the 90s but still. After buying it on the advice of some book list I’d seen somewhere I was initially, and very naively as it turns out, disappointed by the fact that there are barely any words in this colourful board book.
Our zookeeper; ‘Joe’, takes time of an evening to say goodnight to all of the animals under his care, starting with a rather cheeky miniature gorilla who steals his keys and, as Joe makes his way around the zoo, releases the other animals one by one until they all follow him home to bed.
In what is, for my little man, the most sidesplittingly hilarious page in the book, Joe’s long-suffering (I reckon) wife discovers all the animals in her bedroom and patiently leads them back home (only to be followed home again by Gorilla and his little mousey mate.)
This book is wonderful, a true toddlerhood comfort ‘read’ and it is the lack of words that makes it so genius. As well as the illustrations and story needing to be bold and amusing enough to make up for the lack of words, the lack of Mummy or Daddy blithering on actually leaves room for the child to build up their confidence to turn the pages and read for themselves, even to read to you if you’re lucky. For such a deceptively small and simple story, there’s something to spy anew every time you pick it up and the undersized elephant, cheeky monkey, banana-toting mouse and their friends leave plenty of opportunity for animal noises. Winner.