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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Betty goes bananas in her pyjamas

Author and Illustrator: Steve Antony
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2015

Voices, is what we say about this book, really fun to read-out-aloud voices.  
Toddler ape Betty is resistant to bedtime, and, like many an ape before her, she borders on the edge of extreme meltdown distracting herself and procrastinating at the same time with any toy that comes to hand. And my my is she active, wanting to play instruments, paint on her easel, and play with all manner of transportation device, anything but go to bed. 
Meanwhile, poor tired looking Mr Toucan (Toucan? Yes, we were baffled at first, but then this strangely makes sense alongside toddler-gorilla-in-pyjamas), Mr Toucan manages to keep very calm and in a soothing (if slightly wearisome voice), he convinces Betty to go to bed. Until one final amusing calamity, as Betty's toys burst back out the cupboard and she once again looks (very) awake. Doh!

This book succeeds where many don't attempt to go, hitting at the stormy waters of the 2-4 year old age range. At 2 and a half years old Edie (now 3) turned ape every night demanding this book was read before she'd get in her bed...oh the irony! The comic timing, as Mr Toucan finally looses his rag with Betty, then returning his composure by summoning his inner super nanny, is genius. The very keep-calm-and-get-them-to-bed of Mr Toucan resonates brilliantly, and my wry smile increases every time I read Steve Antony's dedication at the end of the book 'To Mum, the best storyteller ever, and all other toucans.'

Main character Betty, is probably one of my favourite of all fictional characters. Her expression-filled face says it all, you almost don't need to 'read' this book, as little ones can certainly follow the gist of how Betty feels from the illustrations alone (excited, elated, engrossed, sleepy, wired). The voice of Betty, for us, is this monosyllabic butch ('Little Britain' style) man voice. Our children roll about in fits of hysterics when we read this book, especially if we have Mr Toucan's voice the same as our own 'get to bed' voice ( and roll our eyes and sigh at the same time). At 5 (Bert) and 7 (Alf) the older boys still like this book, but mainly reading it and imitating 'the voices' for the younger two. There's a good amount of repetition in the story, so again, really perfect for the 2 year olds, and there's plenty of bright colours and inanimate objects in the illustrations such as lorry, teddy, drum, that the little ones enjoy spotting/recognising/naming/pointing at. There's also lots of little quirks I enjoy about the book; Betty's romper suit has a banana print, there's letter blocks scattered about 
on each page which cover the whole alphabet from start to finish, there's no hint of a gender stereotype- Betty plays with her bananas lorry and pink open top car. 
We love this book- big thumbs up for Betty and her weary toucan parent /carer. 

Here's a link to The BookTrust's review and e-card request for this book as we love it so: BookTrust - Betty Goes Bananas  

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