Books Nomads Homes and Habitats: Restlessness and Refuge Picture Books Reading Themes

Finding Refuge in Dreams, Family, and Life-in-Death in Picturebooks Published in 2016


Myra here.

These three picturebooks depict how a child can find refuge through dreams, the love of family, and oddly enough, life-in-death.

IMG_0903Before I Wake Up…

Written and Illustrated by: Britta Teckentrup
Published by: Prestel Verlag, 2016 ISBN: 3791372467 (ISBN13: 9783791372464).
Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

This story attempts to show how a young child travels in her mind at night while she dreams. She also finds a friend in this dream, a tame-looking lion, who accompanies the girl as she dives deep into the ocean …


and takes a trek into the woods…


It is only in the end that the reader pieces together why the lion was the child’s companion in her dream-journey. While the illustrations are quite striking, the rhyming text that is all-too-predictable with the too explicit and trite message did not work for me.

I Love You AlwaysIMG_0893

Written by: Astrid Desbordes Illustrated by: Pauline Martin
Published by: Little Gestalten, 2016  ISBN: 3899557654 (ISBN13: 9783899557657)
Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

In the tradition of Robert Munsch’s Love You Forever, this is a mother’s ode to a child who asks her the plaintive question before going to bed: “Mom, will you love me my whole life?” The mother replies by saying that she has a secret she wishes to share with her child, and she goes on to explain how she will love the little boy named Max forever, and the many ways that she loves him. While this story has been told repeatedly in a variety of forms, what makes this picturebook unique is what is hidden in the visual details as the text says something seemingly very simple (see below).


There is also a casual play in words as could be seen here:


There were a few sections that were quite confusing to me – which may be attributed to something being lost perhaps in translation. Regardless, this is a book that I feel can still be enjoyed by both parent and child, as the latter would most likely focus on the images and how they add on to the text.

IMG_0888Life And I: A Story About Death

Written by: Elisabeth Helland Larsen Illustrated by: Marine Schneider
Published by: Little Gestalten, 2016  ISBN: 3899557719 (ISBN13: 9783899557718)
Review copy provided by publisher. Book photos taken by me.

In this picturebook, Death is given a blue-green, Miyazake-like physique that is most likely meant to be reassuring to young children – unlike the skull, crossbones, skeleton figure with the scythe that most people are accustomed to.


There is a gentle, soothing tone to the narrative that demonstrates how Death is essentially a part of nature and is basically inevitable, regardless of how doors may be closed firmly shut to its coming.


Life and I 

can be found in everything

that starts or stops.

Life and I

stand together

behind all doors

that are opened.

It is a lyrical, comforting story that shows how life and death both reside in the individual. While I found the ending to be a bit superfluous and would have much rather ended with the duality note, this book happens to be my favourite out of all these three brand new picturebooks published this year.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

2 comments on “Finding Refuge in Dreams, Family, and Life-in-Death in Picturebooks Published in 2016

  1. These seem like great books! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: [Monday Reading] Love for Adventure And What It Means to Leave Home To Find One’s Own in Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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