A Board Book Every Week: No. 13
One Ted Falls out of Bed by JuliaDonaldson, illustrated by Anna Currey (Macmillan 2012)
This story falls into the classic category of What the Toys get up to while the Humans Sleep. Published as a picture book in 2004, it now (like so many) makes its appearance as a board book but (unlike many) it isn’t too wordy for this stage. There’s mostly just a line per page, and Julia Donaldson’s exemplary way with rhyme carries it forward beautifully.
It’s a simple counting book. One ted falls out of bed while his owner sleeps – ‘two eyes shut tight’. He gets caught up in play with three mischievous mice and various other inhabitants of the bedroom. It’s wild fun at first but then Ted misses his bed, and builds a way back up to it with toys, which gives us a chance to reprise the counting all over again. Needless to say, while there’s a bit of exciting reversal, all ends very sweetly. The numbers are slotted so neatly into the plot that it can be simply a story about teddies and bedtime with a teeny dollop of anxiety and then a comforting conclusion.
There’s something delightfully old-fashioned about the child’s room with dolls in traditional ‘costumes of other lands’, a tiny china tea-set, and trolls. I had this stuff when I was little! Anna Currey’s gentle, witty illustrations give the dolls, trolls, mice and Ted great character with a light touch.
Julia Donaldson is the default picture book author in so many bookshop children’s sections. You can understand why – she’s reliably brilliant, and she sells! It’s just a pity that when there is limited shelf space, one name takes up so much of it, leaving little room for the many other amazing authors out there.
(And, yes, Ted is a he. I looked through again, hoping the gender was not referred to, because it hadn’t struck me. There are only two mentions and the rest is meticulously imprecise, but Ted is yet another lead character in a picture book who happens to be male, without needing to be.)