Children’s Hour: Not Now Bernard

Children’s Hour is a new feature here at Lucybird’s Book Blog every Thursday where I’m looking at children’s picture books. As I work in a nursery I get plenty of opportunities to look at picture books, and to see what the kids think of them so it really makes sense to use those experiences.

I’d love to hear everybody’s experiences of the books I review too, and feel free to post me a link to your own reviews, I’d love to make this a bit interactive.

The image (if you were wondering) is taken from Shirley’s Hughes’ Alfie and Annie-Rose books which I loved as a child.

Our Toddlers are really into monsters at the moment so I took Not Now Bernard (along with Two Monsters) into work with me. They didn’t really get Two Monsters, but they loved Not Now Bernard.

Not Now Bernard is the story of a boy, and a monster. Bernard tries to tell his parents that there is a monster in the garden but a series of household disasters mean that they don’t really listen. Consequently Bernard gets eaten by the monster…and the monster ends up ‘becoming’ Bernard.

I used to love this book when I was a kid and I’m glad the kids still enjoy it. They were excited to read a book about a monster even before we started. Once the monster appears they love telling him off (“ooomm, we don’t bite people”, “He broke Bernard’s toy. Bernard’s going to be sad now” “We don’t climb on the TV at nursery”.), and the like spotting the various accidents (“Look he hurt his thumb” “She spilt the water” “He’s sad because the monster bit him”). As an adult it’s quite an amusing read and (as with quite a few David McKee books, especially I Hate my Teddy Bear) there’s a bit more to the story, shown in the pictures, than I had realised as a child. I always noticed that the Dad had banged his hand with the hammer, but I never noticed the Mum spilling the water, or dripping paint on the floor before and it sort of explains why they were a bit busy to talk to Bernard.

David McKee is probably best known for the Elmer books, but while I like Elmer I prefer his monster books!

Buy Not Now Bernard:

Paperback (£3.54)

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5 Comments

Filed under Children's Hour, Fiction review, Picture books

5 responses to “Children’s Hour: Not Now Bernard

  1. Toots

    I’m not a huge fan of the Elmer books. I think the jokes are a bit too sophisticated for the audience. Having read Elmer to children I have found myself trying to explain the joke to their puzzled faces, although they love the colourful illustrations. Not Now Bernard is more accessible, but still has a (somewhat black) joke at its heart. As adults we are embarrassed to recognise the ‘not now Bernard’ syndrome of responding to a child dismissively. If a bit more PC maybe we say, “I’ll be with you in a minute, Bernard” 😉
    I feel sorry for the monster who, despite his sharp teeth, fails to impress the pre-occupied parents one bit. His expression on the last page is a treasure!

  2. “I only have 2 hands Bernard” maybe…or perhaps that’s just something when there are 12 children all asking you for things!

    I can see why Elmer is a more attractive choice. Much more PC than Not Now Bernard (or Two Monsters for that matter), and Elmer is wonderfully colourful. I guess you could say it has an equality message too.

    I love the last page too. I can just imagine the monster thinking “I’m a monster, why aren’t they scared?”

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