Wordless Books


Jan Ormerod

This wordless book forms part of a complementary pair with Moonlight, as the same family features in both. In Sunshine they are getting up in the morning, and in Moonlight they are going to bed at night. The protagonist is a young girl who does all the typical things a small child does at the beginning and end of each day, such as eating breakfast, getting dressed, having a bath and going to bed. But, although both ‘plots’ are relatively simple, an everyday family magic is revealed in these books that makes them delightful reading for both adults and children.

Sunshine spread

In Sunshine, the child’s sleepy awakening begins when the early morning sun peeps through her window. For a while she entertains herself with a book, but soon the urge to get up becomes overwhelming. She heads to her parents’ bedroom and wakes her father who, rather absent-mindedly, takes her off to breakfast. Dad shows a gentle kindness here, as he helps his daughter on with her dressing-gown and together they bring Mum tea and cereal in bed. The girl herself is determinedly independent, as she washes and dresses on her own (including a struggle with some rather awkward tights), but this is never boring – and there’s real drama, too. The toast burns in a murky black cloud and Mum and Dad rush frantically around when they realise they’re late for work.

Sunshine spread

There are touching moments in both books, and scenes that are likely to be familiar to most parents, especially those that depict extreme tiredness, and these may elicit a wry smile. They bears out what Ormerod said on thelitcentre.org.au: ‘I need to capture the moment that has clarity and simplicity, invites empathy, and allows the reader to bring her own knowledge to that moment, to enrich it, and develop it according to her own life experiences.’

Sunshine spread

Jan Ormerod (1946-2013) was an Australian illustrator who first came to Britain in 1980. Sunshine was her debut book and it won the 1982 Mother Goose Award and was also voted Australian Picture Book of the Year. Ormerod’s watercolour paintings for these two titles were based on her own daughter and their timeless charm lies in their tender portrayal of the lively, energetic little girl and her loving parents. But they are also fascinating social documents of Britain in the early 1980s, as they show an old-fashioned alarm clock, a large broadsheet newspaper – and the post being delivered through the door before 8am!