Category Archives: Bedtime Stories
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Emily Haynes. Illustrated by Sanjay Patel.
My boy has a great uncle who loves to shower him with wonderful and educational toys. That can be interpreted as a bad thing but all it means is nothing commercial and lots of beautifully handmade stuff and occasional books. This book came from a museum! It’s super extra fancy already, you can tell. In fact, the Rubin Museum of Art is mere steps from our very own Charles P. Rogers showroom!
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is an adorable and amusing retelling of an ancient Indian story; the writing of the epic Hindu poem, Mahabharata. According to legend, Ganesha, elephant-headed god of the Hindu pantheon, uses his tusk as a pen to transcribe the story as the poet Vyasa dictates. The version in this book varies the story a bit. In this version, young god Ganesha loves the candy laddoo. He can’t get enough laddoo. When he tries to bite into a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo, one of his tusks breaks off!
Needless to say, Ganesha is quite upset, until Vyasa calls out to him and offers him a great new use for his broken tusk. And that’s how the Mahabharata was written!
The illustrations for this book are wonderfully bright, geometric, and colorful. I have heard them compared to Charlie Harper’s awesome illustrations, which is high praise indeed. This is a great book to introduce kids to Hindu religion and the Mahabharata or, if you already know about it, it’s a fun way to revisit it.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Stick Dog by Tom Watson.
Once, when my kid was sick and being forced to bed rest for a couple days, I perused the library’s downloadable e-books to find something to keep him both immobile and entertained. I happened across a book called Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog which discussed (okay, “discussed” might be a strong word for it) the adventures of a stray dog called Stick Dog and his friends as they try to score a meal of free hot dogs. My son enjoyed the story and it has been a topic of discussion (more appropriate term here, I think) ever since.
WELL let’s fast-forward. He got a Kindle Fire for his birthday and as much as he’d like it to be nothing more than a Minecraft-playing machine, I have strong opinions about this. As a librarian, I cannot let what is loosely termed an e-reader go un e-read. So I have been loading it up with library e-books in a not-so-subtle attempt to show him the other features of his toy. In this process, I came across the book Stick Dog. I had no idea we had jumped right in with the sequel! Furthermore, the whole Stick Dog thing makes a LOT more sense in print than it does in audio format. Apparently the whole point is that the author (or the narrative author, who is a kid) is terrible at drawing. His art teacher disapproves of his stick dogs. So he draws a series of stick dogs, each with different features to prove that they may look terrible, but at least they look different.
This is the premise of the book. Peppered with self-consciously bad illustrations, we are taken on the adventures of Stick Dog and his friends, Poo-Poo (because he’s a poodle, not THAT kind of poo-poo!) Stripes, Mutt, and Karen. I love that one of the dogs is named Karen. It’s dumb, it’s simple, and if you are six, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Join Karen and Poo-Poo as they seek out the source of those delicious hamburgers!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Boy, has Mac Barnett been on a roll lately! In fact, this is the second book of his I have reviewed in as many weeks. Based on a popular and neither confirmed nor unconfirmed legend, this book, as you may have guessed, is about President William Howard Taft who famously, or perhaps didn’t, got stuck in his bathtub.
Most of the story is about his attempts to extricate him from this awkward situation. Call in the Secretary of War! What will he advise? (Dynamite!) How about the Secretary of the Interior? (The answer is inside yourself.) It’s a fairly simple and straightforward story. I can hardly blame Mac Barnett for wanting to write about it. It’s an interesting story and sadly for Taft, about the only thing anyone remembers about him. That’s the other thing I like about President Taft is Stuck in the Bath: they address that by first introducing Taft with some of the important contributions he made as president and later by his advisers assuring him: don’t worry. No one will remember this incident in 100 years. Which is of course precisely what most people remember about him now. Poor Taft. Did you know he was the only president to also serve as Supreme Court Chief Justice? Well now you do.
If you are sensitive to illustrations of naked people with strategically placed bubbles this book may not be for you. But as for my kid, he got a kick out of it.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen.
Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen are two of my favorite children’s book creators out there. I’ve reviewed books by each of them more than once. Mac Barnett’s Guess Who? Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem and Chloe and the Lion are all wonderful, hilarious books. Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back was, in my mind, an instant classic.
This collaborative book with Mac Barnett providing the story (Chloe and the Lion showed us definitively that this man cannot draw) and Jon Klassen doing the illustrations is a bit of a departure from their usual style. Nevertheless, it’s still a wonderful book. My son is crazy about it. It reads like a story out of a book of fairy tales, maybe Russian fairy tales.
Annabelle lives in a cold, drab town. When she discovers a box of brightly-colored yarn, she decides to knit herself a sweater. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her dog. With the extra yarn, she knits one for her neighbor and so on. It soon becomes clear that she will never run out of yarn so after outfitting the whole village and their animals, she knits house cozies and all manner of other knitted delights. However, a greedy archduke has heard about this magical box of yarn and wants it for himself. What will he do to get it from this girl?
A simple, silly, and beautifully illustrated story from two of the greatest of the new generation of children’s book creators.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.
I feel like I hardly need tell anyone what this novel is. Truly, this is one of the ultimate classics of Roald Dahl. I’d say it comes only second to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in terms of popularity. Matilda is a lovely book but far less adventurous than what James and his insect friends go through.
We started reading this last weeks. It’s great book for bedtime for many reasons. First of all, it’s full of all kinds of excitement, magic, adventure, and intrigue. There are all sorts of lovely things to feed a little one’s imagination and, possibly, lead them into wonderful magical dreams. Second of all, there’s nothing worse than agreeing to read just one more chapter (we negotiate that one on a near-nightly basis) only to realize that it’s past bedtime and there are still twenty pages left in the chapter! James and the Giant Peach has chapters which are usually only a few pages long. Not only does it keep the story moving along at a nice clip, but you can come out looking like a hero generously offering, “hey, why don’t we read FOUR chapters tonight?”
Once the horrors of his cruel aunts Spiker and Sponge are behind him, the adventure of James riding across the sea in a humongous peach with a number of giant talking bugs really takes off. And what a fun ride it is. If you haven’t read this one to your kid or yourself, do yourself a favor and pick it up.