This is the second of this trio’s wonderful, slightly surrealist picture books that I have reviewed. The first, Morgan Goes To Nowhere, focuses on a child’s perception of a common phrase: “Where is the toy? It can be found. So it must be ‘Nowhere’. Where is ‘Nowhere’? Can I catch a bus there? Is it a long way?”
In this book, Morgan continues his journeys into the world of his own interpretations. He goes to a place called ‘Sleep’, tunneling under the bedclothes to a land that’s constructed from the comments and throwaway lines that adults make every day: “Get to bed”. “Settle down”. Go to sleep”.
But where exactly is Sleep? On his journey, he meets a number of well-known characters, including the wonderful Sandman, Yawning Teddies, and a machine that makes ZZZZ’s. He also visits a ‘farm’ with the terrain of a patchwork quilt, to count sheep. This is a wonderful and familiar little story, with accurate, simple but subconsciously layered illustrations.
My 3-year-old loves the Morgan stories because, like in the Donovan Bixley books such asThe Lookie Book, she sees more and more every time she ‘reads’ it. Each bedtime, she makes new discoveries – about the concepts and the myths around counting sheep, or the snoring ZZZZ’s. And she asks about these ideas, too, making the book a catalyst for further engagement.
A simple book like this, home-grown but universal, is a far better artifact for your child’s book case than a mainstream movie spin-off. And like Maurice Sendak’s In The Night Garden it has just a little of that dangerously wacky inventiveness that inspires re-reading again and again…and again.
Reviewed by Tim Gruar
Morgan Goes To Sleep
by Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones
Published by Square Planet