Review Blog

May 07 2013

Night watch by Phil Cummings

cover image

Ill. by Janine Dawson. Working Title Press, 2013. ISBN 9781921504365.
(Age: 3-6) Recommended. Animals. Cooperation. Courage. Giraffe, Hippo and Baboon live happily by a lake. They are not friends, but they do co-exist happily. One day Giraffe spots the shadow of a lion in the mountain and knows that their peaceful existence is threatened. He tells the other animals and Baboon comes up with a cunning plan to bamboozle the lion and keep their territory safe.
This story just begs to be read out loud. The beautiful language with its rhyme, rhythm and repetition ensures that young children will respond to the story with glee. I loved the alliteration (Spish, Spash! Burp!) with its touches of humour and I especially loved the picture of the lion that the words 'Prowling ... creeping .. stalking ... sneaking' created in my head. The simple message of cooperation, even if it means working with people who are not your best friends, is one that young children will be able to understand. Children too will understand that it takes courage to stand up to a lion, even if Baboon has come up with a very clever idea.
Janine Dawson's soft watercolours bring the countryside to life. Each animal has a distinctive personality and her pictures add depth to the story as well as enhancing much of the humour. Beginning readers will also appreciate that the pictures give wonderful clues to the written word.
This is a book that I will be giving to my granddaughter, who is soon to start school. It is a fabulous story, has illustrations that children will love, print that could help a beginning reader as well as a subtle message about bravery and people working together.
Pat Pledger

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