Review: Uncle Pete and the Boy who Couldn’t Sleep

As a household filled with little readers who compulsively resist bedtime, we were intrigued by this book as soon as we saw the title. Imagine if you really couldn’t get to sleep – ever.

David C Flanagan’s young fiction story introduces Harry, a boy who has never even been tired, and explores what now sleeping means for him and his family (e.g. lots of stories, singing and hot milky drinks) and how on earth their unusual problem might be solved.

Hope comes with the arrival of long-lost explorer, Uncle Pete, who arms himself with stardust, beans and strawberry jam sandwiches, and heads to the skies in search of a sleep solution. Luckily for him, he’s joined in his rickety red aeroplane by TM, a quick-witted, sunglass-sporting mouse, who has fast become one of our favourite fictional sidekicks.

There is plenty of excitement as the pair journey to a land of clouds and starlight. We were enchanted by a cloud-eating sheep and a cat who spins magical yarn, and inspired by the mantra: “anything is possible – you’re a talking mouse!” A voyage on the night ocean, where assistance comes in the form of a pod of silvery whales, was a favourite scene.

Uncle Pete and the Boy who Couldn’t Sleep is an original, light-hearted adventure with memorable characters, energetic illustrations and some truly funny moments (like when Uncle Pete pulls the cord on what he thinks is his parachute and gets unexpected results). We think that it will particularly appeal to newly-independent readers.

As well a being the first (potentially of a series) young fiction from author David C Flanagan and illustrator Will Hughes (author of What Not to Get an Ogre for his Birthday) this is the first story in this genre for publisher Little Door books, whose picture books have long kept us wonderfully entertained.

We’re delighted that, as the young Roaring Readers venture towards (slightly) chunkier, more challenging books, one of our favourite publishers is starting to produce goodies like this one for us to enjoy!

Uncle Pete and the Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep, by David C Flanagan and Will Hughes (Little Door Books, out April 30th). Click here to order.

  • You can join David and Will (the author and illustator) for a special online launch event on Friday, May 14th. Click here for more info.
  • Listen here to David C Flanagan reading an extract from the book.

This review was part of a blog tour to mark the book’s launch. Look out for more Uncle Pete news, reviews, and content, at the dates and sites listed below.

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