Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Before We Sleep by Giorgio Volpe, illustrated by Paolo Proietti

Before We Sleep, by Giorgio Volpe,
illustrated by Paolo Proietti, 
translated from the Italian by Angus Yuen-Killick
Red Comet Press, 2021, 28 pages

Little Red, the fox, and Hazel, the dormouse, are best friends and there is nothing they enjoy more that a good game of Hide-and-Seek. And now that fall have come, Little Red thinks it will be even more fun as he will now blend in to the beautiful rich amber, burned orange, and chestnut brown of the autumn forest.

But fall also means that Hazel will soon have to hibernate snug in her burrow for the winter, and that means a long, lonely winter for Little Red. And even though Hazel tries to reassure Little Red that she will be back in spring and ready to play some more, he tries to think of ways to keep her awake for the winter. If only the sun would stay high in the sky so that winter wouldn't be so cold. or maybe Little Red could tickle Hazel to stay awake?  

Resigned to that ways of nature, Little Red suggests he tell Hazel a bedtime story before she sleeps for the winter. But before he utters a word of his story, both Hazel and Little Red are soon sound asleep, Hazel in her burrow, Little Red wrapped around it.

I loved the beautifully layered and textured illustrations that really capture the lovely colors of fall, the  crunching sounds of playing among dried leaves that have fallen from the trees, and the cold bareness of winter that follows. 

This is a sweet bedtime story about friendship but I think it is really more than that. It's also about separation anxiety, something that kids can experience in all kinds of ways. It might be the separation from parents going to school, or the separation of a friend during holidays and vacations when one friend might to away for the summer and the other is left behind. It makes this a good story for talking about how kids can hold on to the person who is temporarily absent from their lives. 

I did feel the ending was a little ambiguous, but when I read it to my young readers, it led to a discussion about why some animals hibernate and others don't, they decided that Little Red would probably do what a fox does to survive the winter, but return to Hazel's burrow to feel close to her. 

You can also download a very useful 7-page Activity and Resource PDF that can be used in conjunction with this picture book. You can find it HERE 

This book was gratefully received from Barbara Fisch at Blue Slip Media

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