The Woods by Paul Hoppe

Sleep is a time for repose. As such, comfortable surroundings and adhering to a familiar routine will go a long way to help children (or anyone else, really) doze off quickly and get a good rest.

In The Woods, a little boy’s bedtime routine is disrupted when the stuffed bunny that he always hugs to sleep goes missing.

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Instead of panicking, however, he knows exactly where to go to find it and suits up accordingly, armed with a few essentials.

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Of course, any proper quest ought to have its requisite set of challenges, with just a hint β€” not too much so it remains toddler-friendly β€” of danger and excitement. But, fear not, as the protagonist rises to the occasion and faces each one with bravery and, more importantly, empathy. Naturally, it also helps to have some company when one has to venture into a dark, scary cave…

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While elements of the book recall Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, there is more than enough originality for it to stand on its own merit. The engaging story moves along quickly, thanks to the use of short sentences which are also simple enough for older children to read on their own, and is brought to life by lively illustrations that perfectly convey its spirit of adventure, as well as the boy’s boundless imagination and creativity. (Astute readers will soon realise that the items in his bedroom are placed there for a reason…)

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