Books & Literature

Book Review: A Bedtime Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Anna Shepeta

CHILDREN’S HARDBACK: A richly illustrated compendium that collects magical tales from around the world, from well-known classics to lesser-known treasures.

An excellent companion for a bedtime routine featuring lesser-known tales that kids will love.

Angela McAllister has written more than 80 books for young readers, among them Leon and the Place Between (2008) and My Mum Has X-Ray Vision (2009). Her World Full of … series showcases collections of timeless tales that make perfect bite-sized reading practice for young book-lovers. The latest addition to the collection, A Bedtime Full of Stories, is ideal for a pre-bedtime escape into faraway lands of fantasy, as its name suggests.

A Bedtime Full of Stories contains folk tales and legends from all around the world, featuring both famous and lesser-known tales. Among them are Denmark’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, New Zealand’s Star Hunt, and South Africa’s How Cheetah Got His Speed.

The stories are categorised by continent, sorted into fables from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Oceania, North America, the Middle East, and Latin America. They range from short to medium length, some containing a moralistic message and others explaining origins, like How the Rabbit Lost his Tail (Canada).

While it’s always pleasing for reading enthusiasts to stumble upon the classics, the best part about this book is the number of unfamiliar stories that haven’t made it to the world stage. In between old favourites like The Sword and the Stone (England) and The Magic Lamp (Arabic), there’s Australia’s The Legend of the Frogs, or Mexico’s Hogs in the Mud. These are less famous but just as worthy of our time. More than anything, this collection will allow children to discover brand new stories (some of which happen to be centuries old) rather than retellings of the same ones they’ve heard endless times before.

McAllister has taken the folk tales from a wide range of sources, such as A.J. Mounteney Jephson’s Stories told in an African Forest (1893) and Myths and Legends of Fiji and Rotuma by A.W. Reed and Inez Hames (1967). It’s refreshing to read stories from a vast selection of cultures that traditionally haven’t been given much air time in the Western world.

Anna Shepeta’s illustrations are inspired by fairy tales, Scandinavian patterns, Baltic storytelling, and Russian folklore. Her unique style showcases different elements of each society that may not be revealed in the stories themselves, making this book a wonderful tool for introducing children to other cultures.

As per the title, A Bedtime Full of Stories would make a wonderful companion for a bedtime routine; it’s easy to imagine kids begging for one more story or falling asleep looking forward to the next one. It also provides an excellent opportunity to foster discussion about the many different cultures and faces of the world.

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: November 2021
RRP: $27.99

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

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