Category Archives: Bedtime Stories
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon.
It is pretty awesome being a superhero. You get to shoot positronic lasers out of your eyes, and wear an awersom red cape and black mask. You get to have special Awesome powers and save the world! But it can be pretty exhausting work too. When you’re so busy shooting lasers and fighting Flaming Eyeball, you can forget to slow down and remember to eat. But who is Awesome Man? What could be his secret identity?
The clever writing of this book gives you clues. Like when he says “All this evil-fighting can make a superhero really tired. Pooped. (I love saying ‘pooped.’)” and, “I’m going to tell my mo—I mean, I’m going to use my beams to make a positronic force shield!”
I’ve never known Michael Chabon to write children’s books before. But his skills in writing come through nicely in a picture-book format. It’s funny, it’s got lots of big bright colors. Definitely worth a look, and more suited to little kids than The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I have a number of books that are very appealing to children that I would never allow children to get their hands on. One is my collection of first/early editions of John Bellairs books, illustrated by Edward Gorey. Another is my artfully crafted pop-up version of Moby-Dick, as interpreted by paper engineer Sam Ita.
My boy has no interest in Gothic horror for middle readers. And it’s my fault that I was reading my Moby-Dick within sight of my boy. It’s got so many lovely moving parts and a giant pop-up 19th-century whaling ship, who could resist? And what cold-hearted soul would tell a little boy “no” to that?
Books like this are a fantastic introduction to the classics; it is obviously abridged; I can’t imagine what an unabridged pop-up of Moby-Dick would be like! So the story is short and more to the point, there are lots of fun interactive tabs to pull, whirlpools to whirl, and spyglasses to peer through. Sam Ita, creator of this rendition, has also made a 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Odyssey. Personally, I’m tempted to buy 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea right this instant. Heartily recommended for children and adults of all ages.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett; illustrated by Ronald Barrett.
My Grandpa bought me this book when I was a kid and I was fascinated with it on so many levels. I brought it home from the library for my own kid this week. I’m not sure if he will obsess over it the way I did, but he definitely loves it. Apparently a movie of this book was released a few years ago…I’m just going to pretend that never happened and keep my memories preserved in the print version.
If you haven’t read this before, I’ll give you a quick synopsis. One morning Grandpa comes over and makes pancakes for the kids. A mishap leads to a pancake landing on a child’s head. Inspired by the incident he tells them a story that night about the land of Chewandswallow. In that land, nobody has to cook their own food. Instead, the food comes in in the weather systems. It might rain orange juice in the morning, mashed potato clouds might roll in for lunch and a roast beef front may come through in the evening. All is well and good until the weather starts to go haywire. Overcooked broccoli three days in a row. Giant doughnuts rolling down Main Street. Apparently that’s a problem but I don’t see why.
It’s a fun, creative and unusual book from the author/illustrator couple who also brought us Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing (which is also great fun). Now go, read, and dream of hamburgers raining down.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Doctor Who: the visual by DK Publishing.
As always, the books I am exposed to are strictly at the mercy of my child’s whims. I feel pretty lucky, then, that my boy has pretty good taste. I have never been forced to recount those Disney stories, like Cars or anything about the dread purple shall-not-be-named dinosaur.
Thanks to my impulse purchase of a couple little Doctor Who figurines, my kid has developed a fascination by this newly trendy BBC science fiction. Unfortunately for him, this insanely awesome, flashy, full of weird monsters and robots and aliens show is TOTALLY inappropriate for a four-year-old. The old enemy of the Doctor, those weird metallic creatures, the Daleks, (one of the figurines I got was a Dalek) are cool looking and murderous. I can’t show him alien robots killing dozens of people!
To appease him, I tracked down a song from the 80’s about Doctor Who, and picked up this visual dictionary from the library. For hardcore nerds, this might be insufficient information; it mostly focuses on the last couple seasons of the series. For normal people, this visual dictionary, full of big full-color photos and brief descriptions of just about every aspect of the show, is fun to look at and far less scary for a kid than the show. And he gets to walk around shouting, “EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!” without being exposed to actual human extermination.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
King Midas: the Golden Touch by Demi
Today’s bedtime story comes to us from the lands of ancient Greece and from the skilled hands of Demi, who has authored and illustrated loads of great books, most, if not all, are either biographies of spiritual leaders, (Muhammad, St. Francis, Rumi, etc.) or retellings of folklore from around the globe. We grabbed one of the latter on our most recent trip to the library, the story of King Midas.
I thought I knew the story pretty well: Midas made Apollo (or someone) happy and they granted him a wish. As we all know, the foolish king wished for the golden touch. I never realized that this was just the end of the story! Turns out that FIRST Midas angered Apollo, who gave him donkey’s ears. (I had thought that was part of a Grimms’ fairy tale.) And the LATER he please Dionysus, who granted him the fateful wish.
Anyways, if you haven’t been exposed to Demi, she does really great retellings of tales, both well-known and obscure. In King Midas, she does a great job of mirroring the style of ancient Greek imagery. It’s not too short and not too long and a story which is sure to captivate kids. Imagine turning your child to gold on accident! Whoopsy!