Age Range: 2 to 5
Peace at Last was a favourite story in my classroom when I started teaching. The story of Jill Murphy’s three bears takes a humorous look at not being able to sleep, a theme that is familiar to children and adults.
The Story: Mr Bear, Mrs Bear and Baby Bear go to bed. Mrs Bear falls asleep but Mr Bear doesn’t. When Mrs Bear starts to snore Mr Bear tries to sleep in Baby Bear’s room but Baby Bear is pretending to be an aeroplane. There is more noise in the living room, the kitchen and the garden so Mr Bear ends up falling asleep in the car. When the dawn chorus starts Mr Bear goes back to bed only to be woken up shortly afterwards by his alarm clock!
Before I became a parent I didn’t appreciate the humour in Peace at Last, now I know how important sleep becomes when you have a young child! Unfortunately for Mr Bear there is a lot of environmental noise keeping him awake, there are noises which he probably doesn’t notice during the day like ticking clocks and the sound of household appliances. Many of the illustrations show him with a pained look on his face or lying with his head covered before he finally finds the peace he craves in his own bed. My daughter likes joining in with the catchphrase he uses when there’s too much noise, “I can’t stand THIS!”
The simple, repetitive text in Peace at Last makes it a great book for beginner readers. Each double page spread has the same layout, text on the left and a large illustration on the right. I love the smaller black and white line drawings above the text which show extras that aren’t mentioned in the story, for example Mr Bear having a late night snack in the kitchen. My favourite is the look on Mr Bear’s face when he looks at his snoring wife. My daughter is fascinated by Baby Bear and why he isn’t asleep when his mummy already is! She also likes Baby Bear’s choice of book – Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
I have used Peace at Last in the classroom as a stimulus for talking about children’s bedtime routines and what they involve. The garden illustration is also good to initiate discussions about nocturnal animals.
Peace at Last is a lovely bedtime story which will hopefully guarantee a good night’s sleep!
Author / Illustrator: Jill Murphy