The Dream Bird
Wombat Books, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
George was a day child – he loved to run and play in the sunshine and light. But it was a different story at night time when it was time to snuggle down and sleep. No matter what he did, he could not sleep. Even following the suggestions of his family like counting 100 sheep backwards and drinking hot milk did not work.
Deciding to try something new, he crept into Gran’s room but her bed is cold without her cuddles to make it cosy. But as he slips forlornly to the floor, she slips into the room and tells him a story about a magical bird that will help him sleep and have the nicest of dreams…
This is a most intriguing story, one that has many layers. Certainly, on the surface, it celebrates the power of the bedtime story as an essential part of the nighttime routine and it also opens up discussions about the importance of sleep and the ways we can help ourselves drift off. But what is Grandma’s secret? Is she alive? Did she die in her sleep making George scared that that will happen to him? Is it her “ghost” telling the story of the Dream Bird?
The contrast in the illustrations between George the day child and George the night child using the softest palette and increasingly ethereal lines, the transition between the two parts of the story is perfect, and even though Grandma is the youngest looking grandma on the planet (probably appropriate given George’s age), it all goes towards making this another Darlison delight that will entertain as much as it intrigues.