'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 23 April 2020

Guest Post: Katrin Dreiling Takes Us Behind Bedtime Daddy

There are at least two reasons why I think you should get your hands on Sharon Giltrow’s debut picture book Bedtime Daddy!

When I received the manuscript Bedtime Daddy, I was in love with the theme and characters straight away. As a mother of three now teenagers and a lifetime of never ending bedtime rituals that usually had ME falling asleep sooner than the kids, this hit home!

The first semi-complete sentence my oldest ever spoke in fierce conviction was something like 'I don’t like sleeping because it’s a waste of playtime!' the logic of which didn’t escape me yet it certainly arose a certain level of panic in me. A panic I henceforth tried to front with lots of coffee…

Kid 2 and kid 3 were just of the same opinion and fabric and I vividly remember conversations with red eyed, frizzy haired, angry toddlers who would repeatedly assure me they didn’t need a nap EVER. Or that one time I secretly changed the clock to an hour earlier just to convince this gang of energiser bunnies that it was bedtime VERY soon. Yes, sleep deprivation makes us do things we are ashamed to speak about…

I remember the frustrating books my husband and I read on the topic of 'bedtime discipline' (eeek), the well meant advice by parents of kids of a completely different nature or the perpetual tiredness.

However, I also remember the hour(s?) sitting in the dark next to a tiny bed holding a little hand and just FEELING that you are the universe for this little person and that is why she just won’t let go.

Nothing is quite so quintessential parenting as the act of taking your children to bed – may that be a struggle or a blissful experience. Because we instinctively know it’s such an important thing, we would love it to be harmonious and possibly 'easy' but if it isn’t it certainly helps to look at this time of day with a great portion of humour.

Which is why I think Bedtime Daddy is a wonderful picture book that can entertain the kids just as much as give a warm, affirmative hug to parents. A little 'just keep going, it will be alright' with a winking eye is exactly what I could have needed (and probably received but I can’t remember due to lack of sleep….) back then.

Another reason I love this book so much is the opportunity it gave me to establish a certain way of illustrating. Initially and formed by experience, I had meant to draw all the characters with massive shadows under their eyes in the style of Tim Burton’s or Neil Gaiman’s. Luckily for everyone involved, another idea quickly formed after I had a good look around in my studio. I had just finished another book project that consisted of many vignette styled illustrations and left me therefore with tons of half-used, quality paper. I felt not comfortable with just filing away all this and so I decided to work in a digital and traditional collage style with the use of recycled material. Not only was this the solution to all my sustainability ambitions but it also created the organic, child-like look I had in mind for this story.

So I used the white quality paper bits to create backgrounds and painted, printed and sprayed some other recycled brown paper for Daddy Bear’s fur. Baby Bear was created on recycled Kraft paper.

With my work I always aspire to inspire children to get creative themselves and I am hoping that kids will discover paper collaging when looking at Bedtime Daddy. Paper collaging is such a fantastic method to train fine motor skills by cutting smaller details for children just as it helps to express yourself vividly and experiment by combining this technique with others. In short, it’s a very educational technique even though it just looks like pure fun.

Apart from the paper, I made it a little challenge to use up all my paint before buying new one for the illustrations of this book. This is certainly personal choice and not always attainable, but it left me with great satisfaction to know that this time none of my materials had gone to waste and this book was created as sustainably as possible. Again this is something that can be included in the teachers notes and spark a conversation about environment, sustainability, climate change and action with the children.

In summary, I would certainly think Bedtime Daddy has a lot to offer and you are most definitely on the safe side with this picture book if you also happen to like ducks with arms or sneezing sharks.
Katrin is a German-born language teacher but moved to Australia with her husband and three children and became an illustrator. Katrin creates quirky illustrations that feature different media. Her first picture book The World’s Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington has been awarded Notable Book 2018 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia and she also delivered illustrations for a highly successful video animation production on YouTube.

 Katrin was awarded the Harper Collins Illustrators Showcase Award 2019 at the biannual SCBWI conference in Sydney. She is represented by Essie White at Storm Literary Agency. Katrin also teaches art to children twice a week and conducts illustration workshops for both adults and children. In her free time she loves to spend time with her family, writing quirky stories and walking her Golden Retriever ‘Loki’.