Laura Spearman creates an amusing, comforting bedtime story in her rhyming picture book, Have You Ever?
Here, the unnamed child narrator keeps asking the title question while describing dreams that feature pleasantly strange animals and their amusing antics. Colorful cartoon-style illustrations by Windel Eborlas visualize for readers the stuff these dreams are made of.
Using strong meter, repetition and a lively imagination, Spearman details six dreams featuring a camel, gerbil, pony, pink elephant, ostrich and bear. This excerpt from the dream featuring a gerbil is typical: “Have you ever seen a gerbil on/ a surfboard on the sea? /Was she riding giant waves while/ she clapped her paws with glee?” The repetition is effective, and limiting the dreams to six one-page descriptions, each accompanied by an illustration, seems just right for a small child’s attention span.
The six fictional animals fill six nights of the week; the final night and the book’s last page is reserved for mom. Here the child asks: “Have you ever met my mommy,/ Seen her tuck me in each night?/ … I’m free to dream of make-believe; /’cause Mommy’s love is REAL.” The second-to-last stanza describes the child feeling “safe and warm and dry,” implying there is some problem to contend with, such as a leaking roof. Otherwise, this is the strongest part of the book, based in reality instead of the dream world.
That heartwarming ending adds value to a competently crafted picture book that blends imagination, reality and motherly love. Especially good for reading aloud, this book makes a nice bedtime choice and a particularly pleasant pick for a mom to read to her child.
Also available as an ebook.