Friday, 20 September 2019

Goodnight, Little Tough Guy



Goodnight, Little Tough Guy  written by Michael Wagner, illustrated by Tom Jellett. (ABC Books, 2019). HB 32 pp RRP $24.99 ISBN: 9780733339356

Reviewed by Julie Anne Thorndyke

This unique bedtime picture book has a lively, fun text by Michael Wagner, making extensive use of alliteration without being twee. All the tired little tough guys are finished saving the world and ready for sleep. Has a spell been cast over the entire hero kingdom, just as in the time-honoured tale of  Sleeping Beauty? (I wish! say parents everywhere.)
                             “The firefighters are fitting in forty fabulous winks.”
 “Cowboys and cowgirls are completely cactus.”
 These fun statements using wordplay, puns and lavish language sounds are sustained throughout the book. In a sense, the story is one extended “dad joke”. Bathing, cleaning their teeth, falling asleep over their food, our little tough guys
(and gals) are seen doing all the normal bedtime routines young children perform daily. Many of the characters have already shut their eyes, and the others are yawning.

The matt-finish of Tom Jellett’s engaging artwork—line drawings with flat colours, muted midnight-blue backgrounds, teal, black, yellow-orange areas and fluro accents—resemble early TV cartoons. The end papers are reminiscent of vintage 1950s wallpaper from a boy’s bedroom.  The square, sturdy hardback binding will withstand repeated use by your own little superhero.

This book has a masculine feel, full of trucks, rockets, planes, cricket bats,   tools and footballs, and as such seems to target boys— but there are also many suggestions in the text and illustrations that make the book gender neutral. Parents will appreciate the “falling asleep” scenarios depicted in the pictures. Although “heroes” are referenced visually there is no direct reference to the standard copyrighted superhero characters of popular culture, and the costumes worn by the children are generic. This will increase the longevity of the book.

A fun read-aloud story for little boys (and superhero wonder women) from the creators of Why I Love Footy.

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