Play, written and beautifully illustrated by Jez Alborough is part of a series of books featuring Bobo the chimp. This new work tells the tale of the inquisitive ape’s adventures at bedtime.
When most chimps should be safely tucked up in their snug treetop beds, Bobo is having none of it. He wants to play. When first put to bed by his Mum, and sitting gruffly in his leafy bunk, Bobo loudly exclaims ‘play!’ He promptly decides to clamber along a branch to see what is happening out in the big wide world beyond; the allure of which is conveyed wonderfully by Alborough’s illustrations. As luck would have it a giraffe appears who lets Bobo climb onto his head and off they go for a gallop through delicately drawn forest and out into soft sandy landscapes.
Mum spots the rogue Bobo and puts him straight back to bed but it isn’t long before the cheeky chimp is off again, sliding down a winding tree vine off on another adventure. This time he meets a turtle who takes Bobo for a scenic ride across the river. As they reach land, Bobo suddenly realises the sun is beginning to set; even turtle is ready for a snooze. Now the pages change, from pale blue to captivating golds and oranges and eventually dusky midnight blue. Bobo is alone in the dark. As stars begin to appear, he calls for mum and is (rather fortuitously) spotted by a passing stork who flies the chimp back to his jungle abode. Mum once again puts Bobo to bed. This time, with no complaints he finally drifts off to sleep.
What could easily have been a sweet end to the story finds instead a couple more pages left to turn. As Bobo awakes, the sky has once again changed, from dark blue to pale yellow as we see the sun begin to rise. Bobo points to it and says ‘play’ while his friends, giraffe and tortoise, wait for him beneath the trees.
This lovely book is an ode to play and childhood curiosity but also a gentle caution that, while adventures are fun, sometimes it’s best to listen to mum.
Images courtesy of Walker Books, who have published Play by Jez Alborough.
Play was published by Walker Books on 6th July 2017.