Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley

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Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley

Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A charming story about the smallest bilby from the Australian writer and illustrator duo will be a favourite of the three to five year olds. Recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0340944509

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Billy was the smallest bilby and each night he looked up at the midnight sky, searching for his favourite star. The one he loved best shone brightly at the very edge of the sky. One night a cloud hid the star from view and Billy was frightened that she would go away and never come back to shine on him. He wanted to give the star something to ensure that she would never forget him and decided that the answer was a kiss. There's the problem, though. How can the smallest of the bilbies get close enough to give his favourite star a kiss?

You might, like me, have wondered what a bilby was. Well, they're the largest of the bandicoots and look rather like a long-nosed rat. Billy is rather special, with his long, pink, silky ears and a tail that you could use for a bell pull. He lives in the bilby patch with all the other bilbies but he's the smallest of them all.

It's a delightful tale for the three-to-five-year-old age group, telling as it does of Billy's wonder at the night sky and how he worries when the star disappears. There's all the childish wonder at something so huge and incomprehensible and fear that it isn't permanent. There's a strong message that determination and the help of your friends will reward you in any situation as the bilbies all work together so that Small Billy can kiss his star. There's also enough information to tempt a child into wondering about the night sky - or even about bilbies - but not so much that it spoils the story.

The illustrations by Bruce Whatley are superb. He captures Small Billy perfectly as the star shines down on him splashing his whiskers with starlight and brushing his ears with silver. All the pictures are set against the night sky so there's a limited palette of muted colours but they're all used to great effect. They're very atmospheric: at one point Billy shouts to the star:

I love you star! I love you best of all!

I swear I could hear the echo. Lovely.

It's a wonderful bedtime read, reassuring that the dark holds no terrors and that it passes. It is also a delight to read aloud and it's surprising how many children's authors ignore the pain a parent suffers when they have to recite ugly prose night after night.

I'd like to thank the people at Hodder Children's Books for send this book to The Bookbag.

For another book about the night sky you might like to look at Shine Moon Shine by David Conway and for an amusing look at the terrors of the night it's difficult to beat Alan Durant's Billy Monster's Daymare.

Booklists.jpg Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley is in the Top Ten Picture Books For Overcoming Bedtime Woes.
Buy Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Small Billy and the Midnight Star by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley at Amazon.com.


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