Over at Lit Kid, I wrote a while ago about the impact of recurring phrases – the ones you know are coming, the ones you are longing to hear.
Some authors do far more. They weave a pattern of repeating words and sounds that is inseparable from the story itself. They are the basis of the enchantment that the author builds.
There are lots of children’s books that do this, some more successfully than others. But one that is particularly soothing (should you have had a hard week) is Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Peepo.
Lots of people have weighed in on why it is a good book. Lots of repetition of words that babies need and recognise in their daily lives. Lots of focus on the details that a baby sees in its day.
The fun of the holes to look through, showing the scenes in miniature. There is all that, and the now-historical setting too: the bath in front of the fire, the coal shed, the father in uniform.
But part of the spell is the continued rocking of the words, now one way, now another. Everything the baby sees needs to include ‘his teddy and his ball’; but in the next scene, the words reverse.
Fortunately, I found a link which shows you the final scene in the book, along with the pictures. Night night.
Peepo “…He sees the bedroom door
The cot made ready
His father kissing him goodnight
His ball And his teddy.”
Janet and Allan Ahlberg