A few months ago I received a review copy of Before I wake Up, by Britta Teckentrup. This is not a book that I would normally pick up, as it seems like a bedtime story, and yet it was a breath of fresh air.
The wonder of this book is two-fold. First it is a wonderful story of a young girl who falls asleep and travels in her dreams through the sky, down to the ocean’s depths, and into a jungle. She is accompanied by a lion friend, who eases her fears, gives her confidence, and helps her explore the world around her.
While they are exploring, she acknowledges that there might be some storms, but she won’t be afraid, that together with her lion they are strong.
Once they get past the rocky parts, her explorations begin. She swims with the whales, dives in the ocean with the jellyfish, and is fully at peace. The timing is such that you are meant to truly get a sense of her joy as she travels.
But like everything, it must come to an end. She and the lion run through the jungle to her balloon, where she must leave him. However, when she wakes up, she is safely snuggled in her bed with her stuffed lion next to her, welcoming a new day.
The second reason that I love this book has to do with the art work. I’m not personally familiar with Britta Techentrup, but she is apparently an award winning illustrator, author and fine artist who has written and illustrated over 80 children’s picture books. Well, she has a new fan in her art. The pictures in this book are stunning! She utilizes mixed media and textures in her art that give it a special kind of depth. While some of the pages are sparse and dark, they are there to highlight that times can be challenging. Once the duo weathers the storm, the tone of the pictures changes and wordless spreads help communicate how full of happiness the little girl is.
We have read this book a few times now and I like the air of calm that it gives off. My 5 year old is less enamored with this story, but we don’t read it as a bedtime story. Perhaps on the most basic level it just isn’t her style – it is a very calming book and she is not a very calm little girl . I see this as an amazing bedtime story for young children and some of the pictures I would love to have hung on the wall.