Goodnight, little tough guy by Michael Wagner

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Illus. by Tom Jellett. Harper Collins, 2019. ISBN: 9780733339356.
(Ages: 2-6) Highly recommended. Bedtime story. This is the ultimate bedtime story; a joy to read, soothing to the ear and nourishing for both adult and child. It reminds us at the end of a hard, busy day of the extreme busyness of being a kid and of how hard they work every day at learning and practising new skills. The text has this assertive, newsreader tone as it says goodnight to all the tough guys in the world. The use of alliterative language is inspired here, as it leads the reader to read slowly and enunciate each word, making for an even stronger text ('The firefighters are fitting in forty fabulous winks. And the soldiers are slipping silently into slumberland'). It utilises all the things that kids love to play in both sports and imaginative play; pirates, lion tamers, wrestlers, race car drivers, etc. For each we see the tough guys either heading to sleep or already asleep (often in the middle of their play!). The illustrations will draw a chuckle from adults and kids alike; two helmet-clad kids fast asleep in their double pram still clutching their makeshift steering wheel, the flaked out toddler asleep with superhero mask and dummy. Tom Jellett's illustrations are always amazing. He has a way of portraying children and life with kids that is cartoonish but so realistic. The title uses 'guys' in the modern non-gendered way, not only portraying both boys and girls but supporting non-traditional gender roles (including female footballer, soldier and builder). This is a supremely clever and wholesome bedtime story that will become a favourite of all the little tough guys and their storytellers!
Nicole Nelson