Little Bear’s First Sleep by Lesley Gibbs, illustrated by Lisa Stewart (Scholastic Press) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 978-1-74362-401-2
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Little Bear is ready for his first ‘big, big sleep’. Mum and Dad are settled in their cave, curled up for their long winter hibernation but Little Bear cannot get to sleep. As he tosses and turns, he wonders what the big sleep will feel like. As he sits, wide-awake, in the snow he decides he will have to be brave and put himself to sleep. As he watches his parents sleep he tries snuggling, singing and softly stroking his own ear. Will he ever be able to get to sleep before the soft spring breeze comes knocking on the door?
Little Bear’s First Sleep is a gentle story which will resonate with all young readers who have trouble getting to sleep - along with their parents. Little Bear is brave and determined and solves his own problem while his parents sleep on, illuminating this adorable little bear’s strength and character which children will be happy to relate to.
The text is lovely to read, combining Little Bears thoughts and actions beautifully with the illustrations.
Maybe it would be soft like his mother’s fur.
He waited with his legs curled high.
Evocative words create a calm tone for the story which is mirrored in the illustrations. Soft brushstrokes and pencil bring movement and expression to the pages. Little Bear is adorable. The muted colours of winter at the beginning, contrasts with the fresh bright colours of spring at the end, and both are highlighted by the dark pages in between while the bears are in the cave. But even here, a circle of glowing light surrounds Little Bear, making the dark cosy.
The illustrations also bring strongly the emotion of isolation bear feels when he is awake, alone, then the connection with family when he snuggles in to sleep.
This is a lovely bedtime story for four year olds and older, particularly perfect for those who struggle to sleep.