While He Was Sleeping by Ayano Imai
|While He Was Sleeping by Ayano Imai|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald|
|Summary: A quirky tale of a misanthropist bear whose life is enriched when his hat attracts some feathered friends.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: September 2013|
Who needs friends when you have a fine smart hat? Not Mr Brown, a bear with a strong sense of style but a lack of companions. He can please himself. So he does, until a determined woodpecker decides that Mr Brown’s hat is prime real estate to house him and a flock of his feathered friends. Mr Brown quickly grows to like his new tenants. His hat attracts imitators however, the birds choose only him. When winter comes, the birds depart and Mr Brown goes in to hibernation. Will he hear their singing again?
Ayano Imai takes a theme of friendship that is well covered in children’s literature, yet still manages to make this a quirky tale. There is magic as the hat mysteriously grows. There is a strange use of selective anthropomorphism as Mr Brown lives in a town of humans where other animals live as animals. If this isn’t unsettling enough, there is a curious, and slightly surreal, juxtaposition between nature and man too. Mr Brown’s house, though conventional in build, appears to have a forest running through part of it. Mushrooms are hung out to dry with the washing and a tree grows up through the tablecloth. So, the moral may be familiar but the interpretation is original and imaginative. It is refreshing that Imai manages to deliver a feel-good conclusion without resorting to a typical Hollywood ending.
The illustrations in this book, like the text, are delicate. Animals, birds, flora and fauna feature in fine detail on each page though not always in the context you might expect to find them in. The story moves through the four seasons with some lovely images of each. There’s a really gentle feel to this whole story. The front and end panels of the cover contain a little treat too in the form of tiny illustrations of closed doors on the former and open doors on the latter with birds peeking out.
This is probably a book that will be best appreciated by slightly older tots and their parents, who may be amused to see Mr Brown’s surreal home, surprised that a hat can double as an aviary and appreciate the message about connection enriching lives. There’s probably another lesson in here too – don’t go to sleep on a bough with your hat on unless you want to wake up with a bird on your head. That said, Mr Brown does make this option seem quite attractive…
If this book appeals then you might like to try [[Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown].
You can read more book reviews or buy While He Was Sleeping by Ayano Imai at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy While He Was Sleeping by Ayano Imai at Amazon.com.
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