The Dream Bird by Aleesah Darlison
Ill. by Emma Middleton. Wombat Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925563337
(Age: 2-4) Themes: Sleep, Lullabies, Dreams. Aleesah Darlison's "The Dream Bird" is the perfect bedtime story, just right for reading softly and calming a little one at bedtime. Day child George is super-active he loves climbing trees, kicking his brightly coloured ball, he's always on the go. Sunshine and light energise him, but as night falls he finds it hard to settle down and sleep. His sister suggests 'counting sheep' while his brother says to 'count backwards from a hundred.' Is that something George could do? Dad and Mum both try to help settle the toddler, even a glass of warm milk fails to help.
When he seeks comfort with Gran, she tucks him into her bird and shares a special, magical story. In a faraway land lives the unique Dream Bird who sings children to sleep, 'giving the happiest dreams imaginable.' Each child imagines a different fantasy world, mountain kingdoms with snow leopards, gorgeous treasures and lands filled with lollies. Gran's gentle voice and enchanting story send George off to sleep.
When Gran finds George in her room crying, she promises she has 'just the thing that will help.' Subsequently, with her small grandson tucked into her bed, Gran tells him the story of the dream bird 'as tall as a flamingo and as graceful as a butterfly' which sings children 'to sleep, giving them the happiest dreams possible.' Of course, the story works and George slips into 'the happiest dream he'd ever had.'
Emma Middleton's detailed paintings capture the beauty of the Dream Bird with its shimmering pink and gold feathers. She beautifully captures George's range of emotions from his restlessness and the quiet restfulness as Gran kisses her sleeping grandchild. Darlison's gentle, calming story will help send little ones off to sleep, as they remember the Dream Bird whispering 'sweet dreams, beautiful child.'