Category Archives: Bedtime Stories
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
I came across this novel when I read a Buzzfeed list a friend had posted which recommended adult novels based on which young adult novels you liked. If you liked Harry Potter, then you might like The Magicians. One might also say that if you liked the Chronicles of Narnia then you might like this. Mind you, this is NOT a book for children. This story is about magic college, not middle school. It’s full of all the drinking, drama, and poor choices that twenty-something-year-olds, magically gifted or otherwise, would make.
The story begins with a seventeen-year-old named Quentin who is bright and studious and who has never quite fit in. Secretly he still dreams of the magical world of Fillory, a series of children’s fantasy novels very much like Narnia. One day, after receiving a mysterious package, he finds himself transported to the campus of Brakebills, which is a school for magicians. He passes the entry exams and becomes a full-fledged student at a school of magic, draped in glamours that keep it hidden in the middle of upstate New York. Although there are little bits reminiscent of Harry Potter, this is not Harry Potter. Lev Grossman creates a unique magical world all its own. And although Fillory is like Narnia, you never see Edmund and Lucy behaving the way these magicians do. It’s a very intriguing and absorbing book even if, like me, you read so slowly it takes forever to get through. Well worth it in the end.
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Liam may only be twelve years old, but he’s a very large twelve-year-old. As in, he looks well older than he is. Stubble, height, the whole nine yards. Although for a long time that made Liam feel like an outcast, he begins to realize that he could use this to his advantage. Did I mention that he is also extremely intelligent? Like too smart for his own good? Well hie is. And when he is sitting at a park with his friend Florida and he realizes that people mistake him for her father, the gears begin to turn. After nearly convincing the Porsche dealer to let him test drive a car, Liam sets his sights higher. Like space higher.
When he finds himself once more confused for an adult, he decides to go for broke on this one, especially because he was selected as one of five dads to take their children to try out the newest, most secretive thrill ride in the world. When the thrill ride turns out to be a rocket? Well, he’s just going to have to be the dadliest of the dads to be selected to take the children on the short trip to orbit.
Okay, so the premise is AWFULLY implausible on this one. But the story itself is still compelling and the underlying theme, about being treated as an adult simply due to his size, is an interesting plot line in itself. Some of the story feels a bit like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that’s not a bad thing. It’ full of clever humor and interesting, if completely unbelievable, scenes. It’s a fun and entertaining book from the author of Millions which was made into a movie a few years back. Worth a read.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The books I want to discuss today are so rudimentary and without plot that I won’t even call them by name. Let’s say book #1 is called Mass-Produced Board Book That is Basically Advertising and book #2 is Simple Short Stories about Dinosaurs. What makes these two books the best books I have encountered is that they are the first ones that were read to me by my son. No nudging, no help with sounding out a single word. I know that kids his age read; that’s just a thing they do. But seeing him use the keys in his own mind to decode these books made me melt with pride. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter a whit what the books were about. (Though I must say, if they made easy reader books about Doctor Who, I’m certain his reading would skyrocket!)
What matters is hearing him stitch the letters into sounds, the sounds into words, the words into sentences. If you have a child, no matter the age, tonight you should go sit in his/her lap and make him/her read to YOU. It’s a wonderful thing. Even (especially) if you have a surly teen who is not into the whole parent/child thing anymore 🙂
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.
Looking for something simple and adorable to read? I’ve just stumbled across this cute little story by Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino. I recently refurbished my e-reader to make it more functional than it was (which was not very) and have been borrowing digital picture books from the library. The selection is somewhat limited (though I expect it will grow) so I’m likely to read every picture book available. This is one that I would go borrow a paper copy of, it’s so durn adorable.
A boy meets a robot and they become instant friends. Unfortunately, while rolling down a hill the bot’s off switch is pressed. The boy carries him home and tries to make him better the only ways he knows how: applesauce, stories, and so on but nothing works. While the boy sleeps the parents accidentally hit the on switch. Robot sees the boy is off so he does the same for the boy: takes him home, reads him instruction manuals, gives him oil. Luckily the inventor intervenes and explains that they have a BOY not a bot. Don’t worry: everything turns out okay in the end. The last several pages are cute-as-can-be pictures of the boy and the bot playing together. It’s a great picture book for kids of all ages. Seriously. Go get it. Or download it from your local library’s e-book collection!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Dad, are You the Tooth Fairy? By Jason Alexander.
My son lost his first tooth the other day. They grow up so quickly! The next day, he brought home this book from the school library. It’s all about a kid losing teeth and the tooth fairy. How appropriate! Right? Wrong! If you want to instill a sense of skepticism early in your child’s life, this is the book for you. It basically spells out for the children that perhaps all of those childhood beliefs are bogus. Hence the child asking the dad if he is the Tooth Fairy. It’s a terrible book. It’s basically one man’s attempt to cover up, in a really lame way, that his son discovered the truth. His answer? Well, yes, technically, I put the note and the coin under your pillow. But it’s the fairy speaking through me! But it will only work if you believe in the face of all the proof to the contrary. It never crossed my little boy’s mind that I had cleverly folded that dollar bill into a butterfly. Until Jason Alexander (yes, that’s “George” from Seinfeld) decided to write this book. Don’t read it to your children unless they are already fully skeptical of the presence of magic and wonder in the world.