A picture-book master presents an engaging feast of a bedtime book.
Just as Boy and Girl pack their picnic basket with everything they’ll need for a perfect luncheon, Burningham packs every part of his book’s design with details that contribute to its success. The front cover art introduces the protagonists, while the back depicts the anthropomorphic animal friends—Duck, Pig and Sheep—who join them. Open the book, and the bull that frightens them away from their first picnic site is charging forward on the front flap. Meanwhile, endpapers depict the many characters, places and props that appear in ensuing pages. This provides an “I spy” element to the design, reinforced by later pictures in which the characters lose various items and the text directly asks readers to find them hidden in the pictures. When the group finally does find “a good place to have their picnic,” Burningham treats readers to a wordless double-page spread with generous white space at the top and a verdant, speckled ground on which the friends share their meal. After playtime, they head home to go to bed, and the text asks the reader, “Who is sleeping in which bed?” This leads to a final page that pulls no punches in its playful, direct statement: “Shall we see if we can find your bed?”
A very good “good night.” (Picture book. 2-5)