Cars and stars

posted in: Helen Cooper | 18

J’s current “must-read” book at bedtime is The Baby who wouldn’t got to Bed by Helen Cooper. It makes J giggle and snuggle closer to me every time – and that alone makes it a winner for me too!

said the Mother.
said the Baby
playing in his car.

“It’s still light.”
“But it’s summer,”
said the Mother.

When Mother again attempts to put Baby to bed he escapes by driving off into a magical land populated by his toys. He tries to play with each of them but they all complain they are tired and that night time is for sleeping, not for playing. Eventually even the baby’s toy car falls asleep and finally the Mother catches up with the Baby. In the end he, too, is glad to be tucked into bed.

This simple story is a sure-fire winner on many levels. The language is delightful and richer than many a book aimed at the youngest of children. Never complicated, but always witty and perceptive, the story stands up to even 100 re-readings. I particularly like these lines from when the Baby meets his toy tiger – they work perfectly with the biggest yawns you can muster (not that I need to work very hard to create yawns at the end of the day when I’m putting my kids to bed!):

“Night time is for snoring,
not roaring,”
yawned the tiger.
Come back in the morning,
I’ll play with you then.”

Both reader and listener will enjoy the gentle humour. J loves the impish baby roaring of in his car whilst I always smile at the recognisable depiction of the Mother, who ends up both carrying the Baby and pushing his car home, or who later on pretends to call the Baby’s bluff when he finally does ask to go to bed.

And then there’s the fact that every page offer you the chance to make silly car noises – J has now perfected her “Brrrrrrrum” noise and is very proud of herself! (For a great post on reading books with silly noises do have a look at this from Sarah at In Need of Chocolate.)

Without giving away any the plot, there is a section in this story that provide the perfect thrill – just the right amount of suspense before the perfect reassurance that all is right with the world.

In addition to wonderful language, great plot, good humour, there are also magical illustrations. Subdued colours give a cosy, sleepy feeling, and visual jokes on every page provide plenty to enjoy and talk about. It’s often said, but this really is a perfect bedtime read for both kids and their grown ups.

To go with this book I wanted to do an activity that J could really do herself and so we chose to do wheel prints. We selected a variety of toy cars…

…spread printing ink on glass sheets,

…pushed the cars through the ink,

…and took prints by laying white paper over the top of the glass with tracks.

We could have made life a little simpler by using regular paint rather than printing ink and putting the car in the paint and then using the tracks to leave paint on the paper (like here by scrumdilly-do!), but we all love the results you get with printing ink. The printing ink we use is a waterbased, washable ink (this one to be precise), and we spread it on the glass sheets from some very cheap clip picture frames. Having a brayer makes all the difference, and is definitely worth getting if you want to try this technique.

The Baby who wouldn’t got to Bed: *** (3 stars)

Music we’ve been listening to recently includes:

  • I’m not tired by Ralph’s World
  • I’m Not Tired I Don’t Want to Go to Bed! by Barney Saltzberg
  • I Am Not Sleepy by Charlie and Lola
  • Drive My Car by Laurie Berkner

  • Other activites that could work really well along side The Baby who wouldn’t got to Bed include:

  • Making a star mobile – there are beautiful images of stars and the moon in this book and so you could try a star mobile, like the one we made here, or this origami star mobile from our hartbeat, or a foil star mobile like this one from Clash and Contradiction.
  • Making a car your kids can zoom off in – like this one from Vanessa at Silly Eagle Books
  • Lots of wheels related art and craft projects from Kids Craft Weekly – I think M and J would particularly enjoy the downhill car track!
  • A different way to make cars out of cardboard, this time from journey into unschooling

  • What are your kids’ current favourite bedtime reads? (Oh, and the bookcases are coming on a treat – no doubt there will be a pictorial update later this week!)

    18 Responses

    1. Harriet

      May I recommend our family’s favorite can’t/won’t -go-to-sleep book? Little Pig Figwort Can’t Get to Sleep by Henrietta Branford. It’s particularly nice to read aloud.

      • Zoe

        Thanks Harriet for your suggestion! My library doesn’t have this, but it does have Little Pig Figwort, so I’ve reserved that to get a flavour of the author and illustrator.

    2. Steph Burgis

      Ooh, _The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go to Bed_ sounds wonderful – I’ve just ordered it through our library! Thanks for posting about it.

      Our bedtime books right now are _Goodnight Moon_, _I Love my Daddy_ by Sebastien Braun (not specifically a bedtime book, but MrD loves it), and two different Debi Gliori books – _Mr. Bear Says Goodnight_ and _Mr. Bear Says I Love You_. None of these can be skipped Or Else! 😉

    3. Zoe @ Playing by the book

      Hi Steph,

      Yes we had a couple of months with Goodnight Moon at the end of last year. And Debi Gliori is ALWAYS a winner I agree – I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed any of her books here as we have quite a lot by her. I don’t know I love my Daddy but it’s in our library so I shall collect it next time I go!

    4. Caroline @ LearningParade

      Hi Zoe,
      We just love Helen Cooper, and by coincidence we got one of her books out of our library this week! It’s called Dog Biscuit and it’s about a little girl who is convinced that she’s turning canine after eating a doggie treat! Do you know it?

      • Zoe

        HI Caroline,
        I only heard about Dog Biscuit when I was reading about Helen Cooper in preparation for this post – I haven’t yet seen it myself. What do you think of it?

      • Zoe

        Yes, when we first got this book I was worried it would be a disappointment after the Pumpkin Soup trilogy, but it isn’t – it’s equally fantastic!

    5. Kristine

      We’ve done the car prints by rolling the car in paint then on white paper but the relief effect (especially the white on black is really effective.) There’s a lovely book called “Goodnight Me” by Andrew Daddo where the little monkey says goodnight to all his body parts things like “goodnight arms, you don’t have to hang on anymore” and “goodnight bottom, you can relax but not too much” Love a little bottom humour in kids books!

      • Zoe

        I love the look of Goodnight Me! But… it’s not in our library system so I shall have to keep my eyes peeled for it on other people’s bookshelves 🙂

    6. anneke schuddeboom

      another great book that goes with this theme is Night Cars by Teddy Jam……perfect bedtime book in my opinion, poetry, super illustrations and another baby that will not go to sleep !

    7. Zoe

      Hi Anneke,

      The frontcover of Night Cars looks lovely. Unfortunately it’s £10 here in the UK but I’ll see if my library can get a hold of a copy. Thanks for the suggestion.

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