Lesley Gibbes is a Sydney based author who was discovered (according to her website bio) by Jane Covernton from Working Title Press when Covernton picked Scary Night “out of the slush pile in 2012.”
Gibbes was naturally delighted, and I was thrilled to read it too – we all dream of being discovered in a publisher’s slush pile and Gibbes’ story proves that it can really happen.
Scary Night is a wonderfully creepy tale with just the right amount of scare factor for 3-6 year olds.
You can pick Gibbes’ years of teaching at work as the story reads aloud beautifully. She understands how language works and what appeals to young children.
Reminiscent of my favourite ‘fun scary’ book when I was teaching (The Spooky Old Tree by the Berenstain Bears), Scary Night is also full of rhyme, repetition and rhetorical questions. Gibbes also incorporates some fun onomatopoeia with chances to use your voice to great effect which any teacher of young children will fully appreciate.
King’s illustrations ramp up the creepiness factor with some Halloween motifs and lots of dark shadows. He develops Gibbes’ ‘fun scary’ concept by drawing his three friendly, innocent-looking main characters within a dark and gloomy background.
King has two books shortlisted for this year’s CBCA Early Childhood award. The second book, which he wrote and illustrated is Snail and Turtle are Friends and I’ve reviewed it here. He also has a third nomination for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year for The Duck and the Darklings (written by Glenda Millard).
I didn’t know what the different judging criteria were for ‘early childhood’ and ‘picture book’, so I decided to do a little research.
The Early Childhood award goes to a book suitable for a “pre-reading or early stages of reading child“. It may be a picture book, picture storybook, or text “in which illustrations play a substantial part in the storytelling or concept development.”
The Picture Book of the Year is given to a book where the author and illustrator “achieve artistic and literary unity“. The judges consider
“artistic style and graphic excellence,
effective use of media and technique,
colour, line, shape and texture,
consistency of style, characterisation, information and setting,
clarity, appropriateness and aethetic appeal of illustrations,
quality of book design, production, printing and binding.“