Children and bedtime are an issue that most parents will have had to deal with at some time or another. But this is also an issue for adults, who in this fast paced world of ours, find it very difficult to find that calm feeling that will allow them to sleep. Over the last few years and particularly since the pandemic, we have all become more aware of our well being and mental health. The importance of a good night’s sleep is well known, but giving yourself the sense of calm that is needed to sleep, that is not so easy. thankfully there is advice out there to help us and our young people to relax and sleep.
In this delightfully engaging story we get to meet the young Chandan and his mother as they go through their nightly ritual to bring calmness and relaxation to the end of the day. It has been a hectic day with lots of adventures, including a visit to a fun fair; but now is the time for those comforting activities such as a bath, brushing teeth and snuggling down with favourite toys and blankets. However, even for a small child it is not always easy to relax from the excitement of the day. The brain has a habit of repeating the events of the day and questioning what has happened. Thankfully Chandan’s mother has a method of helping him calm down and this is a technique which uses the concept of a boat (placed on the tummy) in order to calm and soothe breathing. But Chandan is a child with a lot of imagination and he envisages a range of sea based problems that need dealing with; from pirates, whales, and sharks all of these fears have to be dealt with. His mother uses the constant repetition of “Watch the boat, Chandan, it floats on the ocean. It rises and falls with your breath’s gentle motion.” This helps bring a symmetry to the flow of the story and also a gentle rhythm which becomes really obvious and calming if you read the story out loud.
The illustrations really bring this story alive with the vivid, yet quite mellow, colour palette. The layout on the pages varies a great deal and even the phrase “watch the boat” is used in a multitude of ways, so that there is no chance of boredom. We have images in vertical and horizontal alignment as well as those taking the whole page, or even a double page spread. There is always something to discover and this should work beautifully as a bedtime story, or a calming afternoon read for foundation age children. the love of the parent and child comes through both the text and the images and makes the book feel like a warm and cuddly blanket.
The back of the book gives instructions on how to make a paper boat and though it seems quite easy, you do have to keep in mind which is the back and which is the front! Yes, I have made a first attempt and will give it another go, to see if I can improve!! I think I might read the story whilst listening to Enya singing “Sail away”