Sunshine

Sunshine (1981) and Moonlight (1982), both by Jan Ormerod first published in the UK by Kestrel Books 

Introduced by Clare Walters

#NoWords series (Two books today!)

These two wordless books are a complementary pair, as the same family features in both. In Sunshine they are getting up in the morning, and in Moonlight they going to bed at night. The protagonist is a young girl who does all the typical things a small child does at the beginning and end of each day, such as eating breakfast, getting dressed, having a bath and going to bed. But, although both ‘plots’ are relatively simple, an everyday family magic is revealed in these books that makes them delightful reading for both adults and children.

sunshine

In Sunshine, the child’s sleepy awakening begins when the early morning sun peeps through her window. For a while she entertains herself with a book, but soon the urge to get up becomes overwhelming. She heads to her parents’ bedroom and wakes her father who, rather absent-mindedly, takes her off to breakfast. Dad shows a gentle kindness here, as he helps his daughter on with her dressing-gown and together they bring Mum tea and cereal in bed. The girl herself is determinedly independent, as she washes and dresses on her own (including a struggle with some rather awkward tights), but this is never boring – and there’s real drama, too. The toast burns in a murky black cloud and Mum and Dad rush frantically around when they realise they’re late for work.

sunshine (1).jpg

Moonlight opens with the same family having their evening meal. When they’ve finished the girl has a bath, puts on her pyjamas, has her hair brushed (reluctantly) and gets into bed. Then the real fun and games start… First she’s up for a glass of water, then she gets scared. Dad gently takes her back to bed, but nods off there himself. So the child heads to the living room to find Mum, and these two end up snoozing companionably on the sofa. Eventually Dad, awake once more, carries the child back to her bedroom, where she finally goes into a deep sleep.

There are touching moments in both books, such as when the family are all in bed reading quietly together, or when the girl makes a boat and plays with it in her bath. There are scenes that are likely to be familiar to most parents, especially those that depict extreme tiredness, and these may elicit a wry smile. They bears out what Ormerod said on thelitcentre.org.au: ‘I need to capture the moment that has clarity and simplicity, invites empathy, and allows the reader to bring her own knowledge to that moment, to enrich it, and develop it according to her own life experiences.

sunshine

Jan Ormerod (1946-2013) was an Australian illustrator who first came to Britain in 1980. Sunshine was her debut book and it won the 1982 Mother Goose Award and was also voted Australian Picture Book of the Year. Ormerod’s watercolour paintings for these two titles were based on her own daughter and their timeless charm lies in their tender portrayal of the lively, energetic little girl and her loving parents. But they are also fascinating social documents of Britain in the early 1980s, as they show an old-fashioned alarm clock, a large broadsheet newspaper – and the post being delivered through the door before 8am!

For more info, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Ormerod and various obituaries including The Guardian, The Telegraph and Publishers Weekly.

Both books were first published in the UK by Penguin Books under the imprint Kestrel Books, in 1981 and 1982 respectively.

Clare Walters is a journalist and writer of children’s picture books. Her editions of Sunlight and Moonlight were published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, London, in 2004.

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