Bedtime Story


There was a massive reserve queue for Chloe Hooper's Bedtime Story -- I think I was about 38th in line (there are 27 waiting now). This is why we need PLR and ELR, people... So when I finally got my mitts on it, I probably raced through it more quickly than it deserves, conscious of all those future readers breathing impatiently down my neck.

This is a book to be savoured and treasured. Beautifully produced, with abstract illustrations by Anna Walker, Bedtime Story is a memoir about one family, struck by the lightning bolt of a cancer diagnosis, and Hooper's desperate flailing to find the right way to tell her young children: the perfect picture book, the perfect children's novel, the perfect words. Of course there are no perfect words (though she gratefully admits that some come close) and the search through children's literature becomes a framing device through which to explore the impact that this devastating news has on the entire family, and the different ways they find to cope and keep on going.

I had forgotten that Chloe Hooper was married to the incomparable Don Watson; when I realised who her husband was, it sent me, heart in mouth, to search the internet for updates on his health. Some sections of this book might be too harrowing for some, but it is a gorgeously written, thoughtful meditation on mortality, crisis, childhood, love and family which richly deserves its long reserve queue.


  1. Yes, Kate - a gorgeous book. Almost unbearably moving at times.

  2. Yes, indeed. Harrowing but tender and beautiful.