CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 35. . . .May 13, 2011.
Once Upon a Bathtime.
Vi Hughes. Illustrated by Sima Elizabeth Shefrin.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2010.
32 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
Preschool-kindergarten / Ages 1-5.
Review by Roxy Garstad.
Bedtime, bathtime, storytime –
In goes little Cinderella,
Scrub clean for dancing at the ball.
In goes a bunch of magic beans.
They’ll reach the sky.
Once Upon a Bathtime is a worthwhile addition to the collection of available picture books. The story follows a young girl in her preparations for bed, from putting her teddy bear to sleep in a chair to falling into a peaceful sleep herself. Bathtime is, of course, the focus, and in this book, it becomes a time of imaginative play, all under the watchful eye of a doting mother. Once bathtime is over, both the mother and father, the latter playing a song on his guitar, soothe the young girl to sleep. The text is composed of the short, lyrical sentences that tend to appeal to young children. Repetition adds to the soothing flow of the text – one can imagine toddlers being lulled to sleep. Interwoven in the text are references to popular fairytales for girls, such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Non-gender-specific references, such as to Jack and the Beanstock and the Three Little Pigs, are also included. It is full of comforting allusions to all the favourite bedtime stories that children beg to hear
over and over again.
Shefrin’s illustrations form the core of this book’s success. They add an extended, richer story to the text, with a detail and feel reminiscent of prolific children’s author and illustrator Eric Carle.
The figures and background objects are cut-outs made from paper, with many pieces featuring interesting textures reminiscent of nineteenth-century wallpaper. Facial expressions come alive with black ink. A variety of colours are used in refreshing contrasts – mint green with purple and
mauve; mustard with speckled blue, purple, and orange. The illustrator has depicted a warm and loving multicultural family that is sure to appeal to many young girls.
Roxy Garstad is a librarian at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, AB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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