Wednesday 11 January 2017

One Minute Till Bedtime

One Minute Till Bedtime: 60-second poems to send you off to sleep, Selected by Kenn Nesbit, illustrations by Christoph Niemann (Little, Brown and Company) HB RRP $41.95  ISBN: 978-0-34121-9

Reviewed by Bill Condon

This is a dipping-in kind of book, in which there is a treasure to be discovered on every page. A quality production, it’s made sturdy to last through dozens if not hundreds of happy readings and even comes with a slip-on jacket. 

The first thing that must be noted is that the poems in this collection are child-friendly. They are about mums and dads and grandparents, about lovable pets and the funny things they get up to. They traverse topics such as the school bus, the first day at kindergarten, rainbows, armadillos, bath time, and dandelions. In fact, with 164 poems, each cleverly illustrated, One Minute Till Bedtime
touches on a great many subjects that are sure to leave a smile on children’s faces as they drift off to sleep.

Several well-known writers are featured in the book while some are poets who have been around for a long time, but I’m pleased to say, are still very much at the top of their game. These include such luminaries as Jack Prelutsky, Colin West, and Michael Rosen, to name just a few of many. It is also heartening to see such a strong representation of Australian poets. I counted fifteen whose names I recognised, too many to list, but again, to name only a few, take a bow, Dianne Bates, Edel Wignell, Janeen Brian, Mark Carthew and Teena Raffa-Mulligan.

The book is divided into six sections, each one beginning with a poem by Kenn Nesbitt, America’s Children’s Poet Laureate from 2013 to 2015. While the sections are not named, Nesbitt’s opening poem ably sets the scene for what is to come. As befitting a book with this title, there are number of poems concerning sleep. It’s difficult to choose a favourite from such an impressive line-up, but to give a small example, here are the final lines from Good-Night Poem, by Ralph Fletcher:
Tuck your covers
snug and tight.
Tuck the good
into the night.

One Minute Till Bedtime is highly recommended.

Australian author Bill Condon has written several books for children and young adults including his latest novel for 8 to 12 year olds, All of Us Together (About Kids Books). Bill has always had a special affection for poetry.

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