Book Review: Morgan Goes To Sleep, by Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones

cv_morgan_goes_to_sleepAvailable in selected bookstores nationwide.

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
ISBN 9780473290771

Book Review: Morgan Goes To Nowhere, by Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones

Available at selected booksellers. 

This is based on a true story. In fact it’s thecv_morgan_goes_to_nowhere story of all our lost socks, missing building blocks, half used pencils and crayons. This is a common tale that everyone can relate to. It’s the tale of Morgan, who misplaces his favourite toy. He looks everywhere, no stone is unturned. Or as we put it in our house hold – he has a ‘boy look’. Of course he claims his search is more full-on. But is it really?

Morgan concludes that his bunny must have disappeared, having emigrated to a magical place (and I can hear my mother nagging now) called the land of ‘Nowhere’. Morgan must enter and investigate, if he is to retrieve his toy. But there is no trepidation. This is a magical place where every lost and forgotten object gets a second life. Discarded pencils become forest stands, old dice make a river, and mismatched socks become the rolling hills and meadows. It’s a surrealist’s dream, beautifully illustrated with subtle nods to Kiwiana like old Buzzy Bees hovering in the skies and Moreporks asleep in pyjamas lounge in the trees of Morgan’s garden.

Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones don not take themselves seriously. Even their bio-blurbs are humorous cartoon sketches of themselves. For instance Fairgray revels in his newest challenge: learning Morse code. Meanwhile Black is pictured like Cruella, from 101 Dalmatians, accompanied by an obese rat and skull. Jones acknowledges himself to be a wordsmith of note and “a great tapper of keys’.

This is a delightful and original book, with a real down-to-earth connection for us all. Even if you don’t have kids you will enjoy this.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

Morgan Goes to Nowhere
by Richard Fairgray, Tara Black and Terry Jones
Published by Square Planet
ISBN 9780473269999