Review Blog

May 21 2015

Wendy and the wallpaper cat by Jason Hook

cover image

Ill. by Ilaria Demonti. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781851778300
(Age: Junior primary) Highly recommended. Art and design. Sleeping. Bedtime. Grandparents. When Wendy cannot sleep, her parents decide to take her to see Grandpa Walter. She has never visited his house before, and cannot help but notice that his suit is the same design as his garden. When she climbs the stairs she notices the rose wallpaper, and when she looks closely at one of the roses, finds she can smell it. Grandpa offers her one of the bedrooms. She goes into one and the wallpaper is of the sea and shells, and touching it she finds sand in her hand. The next bedroom has luminous fruit trees on the wall, and when she touches the paper, an orange falls into her hand. But the third bedroom has wallpaper covered in scenes and characters from nursery rhymes, and she decides that this is the bedroom she wants. That night after reading her book of nursery rhymes, she settles down to sleep. During the night she follows the blue cat as it plays its fiddle between the trees, she follows him across the sea shore, and into the garden full of red roses and then dances the whole night long. The next morning she wakes, telling Grandpa that she danced the whole night long, and returns to her own house to find that the same wallpaper has been put into her room, so now everyone can get a good night's sleep.
This is a beautiful picture book which uses the wallpapers designed by Walter Crane in the nineteenth century to carry its story of getting to sleep. The girl finds that the stories from the nursery rhyme wallpaper flow through her dreams enabling her to sleep easily. Mark Twain used this wallpaper in his children's nursery, and the history at the end of the book shows how popular Crane's work was. Crane illustrated many books, including the works of the Grimm Brothers and his work is deposited in the Victoria and Albert Museum which published this book. Demonti has used his work as a basis for her own stylish pictures of Wendy and her family, making the whole memorable. Children will pore over this book, finding all sorts of things in the illustrations, talking about how they get to sleep and discussing the nursery rhymes presented in Crane's wallpaper.
Fran Knight

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