It feels like that weird in-betweeny time between Christmas and the New Year. You know when you’ve been cooped up inside for ages, have eaten your bodyweight in cheese and don’t know what day of the week it is. I have no idea how long we’ve been locked in this house. My husband and I have fallen into a strange daily routine of working, teaching, feeding, cleaning and watching Inspector Morse all over the course of 16 hours in three crowded rooms. It’s Groundhog Day. However horrible, the pandemic may feel like “Business As Usual” for my husband and I; but for the kids? It’s still terribly unsettling.
The six-year-old won’t go to bed first time around. Or second time. Or even third. . . She’s up and down for hours every night working herself into a state of fitful tears. The change in routine has rocked her world. Last night, the four-year-old whispered to me that his friend John is great at puzzles but can’t come and visit anymore because he’s got “the corona”. John is new. . . an imaginary friend that arrived three days into lockdown when the four-year-old’s friends disappeared in a way he just can’t understand. With bedtime becoming an ordeal, it was clear that we all needed to find a way to unwind. To forget about what was happening outside in the world, and to make our own little world safe and calm. Frances Stickley and Anuska Allepuz have the answer.
‘What Will You Dream of Tonight’ was written long before Corona, but it is the perfect antidote to my little peoples’ worries. In fact, my four-year-old said it made him feel “all floppy” while the six-year-old said it was “floaty and magical”.
Frances has woven a sweet kind of lullaby to help anxious little people drift off into a worriless slumber.
“Tucked into bed with a world in your head, as we cuddle and turn down the light. Where will you go when the starts start to glow? Tell me, what will you dream of tonight?”
And we’re off, whisked around the world on a sensory adventure. We ride the crest of a wave, pluck stars form the sky, see the flickering lanterns in the desert night and listen to the whispering trees.
“You are free! You are fast! You can fly!”
Anuska’s illustrations match the reassuring tone in gorgeous pastels. From the light touching the rooftops and long shadows cast by camels, to the current moving through the water, Anuska introduces textures that you feel like you could reach out and touch.
And as you reach the last page the story ends with words that we all need to hear right now. . .
“. . . you are safe. You are lovely. You’re loved.”