Not Now, Bernard by David McKee

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Not Now, Bernard by David McKee

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Funny for children. Funny for grown ups. It's a win-win!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: October 2012
Publisher: Andersen
ISBN: 978-1849394673

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Do you always have time for your little ones? When they ask you a question, do you always stop and listen or are you, like most parents, prone to the 'not just now, sweetheart' or the 'just a minute, darling' response? Poor Bernard has two busy parents, and when he brings them his very serious problem they unfortunately don't take the time to listen, with disastrous consequences!

Bernard, you see, has discovered a monster in the garden, and he goes into the house to let his parents know that this monster has said he intends to eat him. Unfortunately Bernard's parents are far too busy to pay attention to Bernard, so he returns to the garden, says hello to the monster and then gets eaten! The monster then wanders into the house, and Bernard's parents are still so busy that they don't even notice that they're now talking to a monster, not to Bernard, and so the monster gets to have Bernard's tea, play with Bernard's toys and is sent off to sleep in Bernard's bed!

This story could be seen as the stuff of nightmares! I suppose that some more sensitive children might take the whole thing far too seriously and find it disturbing that Bernard gets eaten and that the monster so easily replaces Bernard in the house without the parents noticing. However, I think most children would immediately see the funny side to the story. Bernard gets eaten so suddenly, and it is so unexpected an event for a children's picture book that it shocks you into laughing and then the remainder of the story is suspenseful and funny, waiting to see if the parents will start paying attention and notice that Bernard has gone, or even if the monster will eat them up too!

It's a very simple idea for a story, and the text is also very simple with just one sentence per page, yet the simplicity allows the space for the pacing of the story to be very funny. I really like that the humour works for both children and adults, and it survives the re-read test extremely well. The illustrations are also quite simply drawn and are both funny and menacing at the same time. Sometimes the monster looks very funny, for instance the first time Bernard's mum says 'Not now, Bernard' to him and he stands, perturbed, with his finger in his mouth. But then at other times he's actually a pretty terrifying-looking monster with his triangular teeth, devil horns and strange long nose! The colours are vibrant, and the characters are all interesting to look at through the story, clearly showing their feelings in their expressions making it easy for little ones to follow.

Interestingly, I think the book ends up being a cautionary tale for parents, rather than children, reminding us to perhaps stop what we're doing sometimes and actually pay attention to our children, and this fact makes it a fun read for both children and adults. We borrowed this repeatedly from the library throughout my daughter's toddler years, and it's really lovely to have our own copy now. Perfect for sharing with your own little ones, or giving as a gift that will be happily re-read by all the family.

If you enjoyed this then you might also like to try George's Invisible Watch by David McKee and Brett McKee. We've also enjoyed something else by David McKee.

Editor's note: we've also seen Not Now, Bernard as a rather excellent board book.

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Buy Not Now, Bernard by David McKee at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Not Now, Bernard by David McKee at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Not Now, Bernard by David McKee at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Not Now, Bernard by David McKee at


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