Category Archives: Bedtime Stories
Post by Mark T. Locker
Prince Caspian: the return to Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is sequel time around here! The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was such a resounding success that we thought we would dust off the follow-up, Prince Caspian. Anyone who tries to follow this series sequentially is in for a challenge. The recommended order and the order in which they were written are not the same. I just went for the sequel the movie empire chose to use as the sequel as well. Note the cover says it is “Book 4” Whatever!
Only one Earth-year has passed since Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter tumbled out of the wardrobe and back into England. On their way back to school they feel a distinct tugging and, next thing they know, they are back in Narnia. Only, everything has changed. Hundreds of years have gone by and the Old Narnians, the talking creatures, the centaurs and fauns, are all in hiding, driven nearly to extinction by men. One man, and true heir to the throne, is a sympathizer and an rallies the Old Narnians to take back their land. When they are clearly losing, Caspian blows the magic horn which once belonged to Susan, which will bring help from anywhere.
Guess who that help is? Guess what caused that mysterious tugging? It’s not a bad book though my son wishes there was more dialog. There’s a ton of these books. I’m not sure if we will read them all or not. If anyone out there has suggestions for chapter books for reading aloud, let me know!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss.
Did you know there was a doctor before Dr. Who? That’s right. He was named Dr. Seuss. Perhaps you have heard of him. He recently got lots of coverage for his book Green Eggs and Ham being read on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Well before that day, he wrote this Christmas book which I’ll bet everyone but me read long, long ago. It has been turned into both a live-action and an animated movie. It’s got a soundtrack whose songs appear on occasional Christmas mixes and it is firmly embedded in our culture. Verily, anyone who vocalizes a dislike for the season is promptly labeled either a Scrooge or a Grinch.
I, on the other hand, only read it for the first time last week. My kid has seen the animated movie numerous times, regardless of whether is Christmas or Flag Day or Arbor Day. Who can blame him? There are precious few Flag Day movies for kids. Always interested in raising a well-rounded child, I grabbed the book when I saw it on the shelf. Doubtless all copies will have been snatched up by now. (Yup, 21 holds!)
I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to assume the book is better. Full of that holiday redemption that people just eat up this time of year, what better moment than the Grinch’s realization that Christmas isn’t just about getting stuff? (Well, in theory, at least) Watch his heart grow three sizes! Watch him join the Whoville inhabitants for roast beast! Fun for all ages.
Oh No! Not Again! (or How I Built A Time Machine to save History) (or at Least My History Grade) by Mac Barnett.
How’s THAT for a mouthful of a title? Honestly, the plot is hardly less confusing. I rather enjoyed this book and my son did too, though I suspect he missed what was really happening in the story.
The main character (hardly a heroine) is miffed for having gotten one question wrong on her history test. Rather than just accept it, she uses her genius to build a time machine and change the past to fit her answer. The question was about which country has the earliest known cave paintings. Her wrong answer was “Belgium”. So, with a little trial and error—it is a homemade time machine after all—she finds herself in prehistoric Belgium. Armed with paints and brushes, she proceeds to paint a fantastic cave mural, since the inhabitants of the cave seem disinclined to do it themselves. However, while she is busy drawing robots on the cave wall, the cavemen discover her time machine and proceed to bring all manner of people from all points in history back to the prehistoric era.
Needless to say, history becomes a little more changed than she anticipated. One the bright side, she got that one question right on her test! On the other hand, all the rest of her questions were wrong due to her effect on history. Like I said, the finer plot points are lost on my son, but the book is funny and entertaining nevertheless.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Maybe it’s the darkening of the days that draws me towards darker reading. Maybe I’m just beginning to discover Holly Black who is, by and large, fairly dark in content. Black, who is probably best known for co-authoring The Spiderwick Chronicles, has aimed this at an older audience. This is a grown-up or teenage bedtime story, to be sure. But a very good read.
This is a vampire book. If you aren’t into vampires, then this book would probably annoy you. It’s also a love story, of sorts. An action/adventure story. A revenge story. I like it because it’s not like other vampire stories. In this story a whole unique culture has popped up due to the unchecked spread of vampirism. This new cultures is centered around Coldtowns. When you are bitten, you turn Cold. After which, you will probably become a vampire. If you are, you are sent to live in the closest Coldtown. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of humans who are obsessed with vampires and dream of becoming one. These people go to Coldtown, which is a one-way ticket, in the hopes of becoming vampires.
Tana doesn’t want to be a vampire but she may be infected. Her ex is definitely infected. And the guy in the trunk, tied in chains is a vampire. So, it looks like they’re off to Coldtown! Holly Black writes in an engaging and entertaining manner. It’s at times a little gory, but not so bad as to make it unbearable. Good read for Goth teens or ex-goth adults.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables by Jon Scieszka.
Well, the holiday season is just around the corner! Maybe it is time to have your children brush up on their moral fiber. What better way to reinforce life’s lessons than with some good, old-fashioned fables? Even if you don’t recognize the name, if you have kids you know Jon Scieszka (pronounced CHESS-KA if you’re wondering). He has written and illustrated literally (okay, not literally) billions of kids’ books. He also is a huge advocate for encouraging reluctant male readers to find books that will appeal to him. To be honest, a lot of his works don’t appeal to me. But this collection I am pretty sure pleases me more than it does my son.
He begins the book by teaching us a bit about Aesop and how he used his fables both to inform and to speak out, under thinly-veiled metaphor, against the ruling class. What follows is a number of one-page fables accompanied by one-page illustrations and some rather unhelpful morals. They are actually quite hilarious. I think they are funnier than my kid does. One of my favorites is the Duck-Billed Platypus and the BeefSnakStik® which concludes with this memorable exchange: “I am one of only two mammals that lay eggs.” “Big deal,” said BeefSnakStik®, “I have beef lips.” Moral: Just because you have lots of stuff, don’t think you’re so special.
In short, this book is hilarious fun for old and young alike! Moral: Read this book to your children, or by yourself, tonight!