A simple bedtime book about “boy” and “girl” who make a picnic. Simplicity in picture books is a valuable and sometimes hard to find commodity these days. Small children see things in terms of black and white, simple and straightforward, and that is why I like this book. It would lend itself well to a read-aloud session with a small group because it is simple and has large enough illustrations.

The scene becomes amusing when pig, sheep and duck join in, dressed in smart casual. Lovely dappled colors and splotched ink effects give a light summery feel to the book. Drama, that necessary ingredient in successful read-aloud stories is present when bull romps into the double page spread. A hide-and-seek element is then introduced as the characters all seek to hide from the bull. Opportunities for reader interaction are plentiful as we are prompted to find various elements in the illustrations. This “Can you find…?” element offers reassuring repetition for young readers. There is a simple contentment when boy, girl, pig, duck and sheep finally sit down for their picnic.

“You can sleep in our house” is the catchcry from “boy” and “girl” leading to bedtime. Subtly the reader is led from the game of “Can you find?” to the last page which gently prompts, “Shall we see if we can find your bed?” A lovely story to read before bedtime from the great John Burningham who was one of five finalists for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award.

A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.