Tag Archives: bedtime stories
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!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.
Once in a while, there is a book, one of those that completely transports you and immerses you in another world. One of those books that keeps you nervously glancing at the clock to see how much past your bedtime you have stayed up. I guess for most people this wouldn’t be that book because it’s only 150 pages long. But, I read slowly and it still took me a few evenings to finish.
The story starts out fairly normal, with the author heading to his childhood town for a funeral. When he finds himself at the old Hempstock farm, whose daughter he had vaguely known as a child, things begin to change. He begins to remember little details, like the duck pond behind the barn that Lettie Hempstock had referred to as “the ocean”. And when he remembers the name she had for the pond, he begins to remember everything from that spring when he was seven years old.
It turns out the Hempstock family was not your ordinary family. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but the women of the farm were much more than they appears. Magical, ancient, otherworldly. The young narrator is unwittingly drawn into a fierce conflict when Lettie brings him with her to bind an ancient power (Old Mrs. Hempstock dismissingly refers to it as a “flea”) causing trouble in the village. When the creature hitches a ride into the real world inside the boy’s foot, great trouble ensues.
Almost a children’s book if it wasn’t for some very scary imagery, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a wonderful quick read for a rainy afternoon. And we will have plenty of those soon enough.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Bats at the Library by Brian Lies.
If you have never read Bats at the Beach, no need to worry. There is nothing in the sequel, Bats at the Library, that will be confusing if you skipped the first one. As you may guess, Bats at the Beach was about a bunch of bats at the beach. Playing bat games, eating bat snacks. Any guesses what Bats at the Library is about? That’s right: it’s about the same troupe (flock? herd? murder?) of bats visiting their local library. It seems a careless (or possibly thoughtful) librarian has left a window ajar, just enough that the bats can cruise in after hours. The librarian in me is torn between horror and delight that the bats are inside. I can only hope they are toilet trained!
It turns out they are a very respectful bunch and use the library just as one would hope they would: reading stories, shadow puppet theater, storytelling. Who knew bats were so thoughtful? The illustrations are fun, and if you have a keen eye, you can spot some homages to children’s literature: Dorothy and her friends in bat form, the kind policeman from Make Way for Ducklings, and many more. A good read for kids in preschool or kindergarten.
Post by Mark T. Locker
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.
First of all, I know what you are thinking. No, it’s not THAT book. Shades of Grey predates that OTHER book by a full two years and, from what I know of 50 Shades, is utterly unlike it in any way.
Jasper Fforde is a British mystery novelist who has written a number of clever and entertaining series of novels. This unusual dystopian novel revolves around a young man named Eddie Russett. In this far-off future, people are broken into classes determined by what color they perceive. Eddie is a Red, which is the lowest end of the spectrum. Violets are the top dogs. Greys are nearly worthless. It is a strange and highly regimented world, all built on the rather odd laws of a man named Munsell. One of the most intrusive laws is the outlawing of spoon production, which makes spoons highly sought-after. Also, one must never, EVER marry a complimentary color. Imagine the scandal!
Eddie and his father are sent from their urban home to the far-off town of East Carmine, where Eddie is to perform a chair senseless as a punishment for “lack of humility”. When he meets a fiery Grey named Jane, his life slowly is turned upside-down as he begins to look at society in a new way.
What’s most interesting is that the first thing we learn is that Jane has pushed Eddie into a giant man-eating Yataveo tree, which will slowly digest him. He is narrating from inside the tree. I enjoyed this book quite a bit; I like Jasper Fforde and his tongue-in-cheek style, the classic understated British humorist.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Experiments of Dr. Vermin by Tim Egan.
Well, autumn is in full swing now. We are a week into October, the trees, as my son puts it, are glowing, and all the Halloween books are off the shelves at the public library. I usually try and hit the shelves in early September to beat the rush and get first picks of the selection. This year, I got there a little late and ended up with one about a squash who didn’t fit in and whose last line was, “Happy Thanksgiving!” (remind me to notify the librarian of the misclassification) and this Dr. Vermin book about a pig who winds up lost and seeking help on a spooooooky Halloween night.
Turns out the house Sheldon the short-order cook visited was the abode of the malevolent Dr. Vermin. Oh no! I hope Sheldon will be okay! Spoiler alert: nothing terrible happens. The pig learns a lot about himself. He befriends two wolves who had a run-in with the wicked Dr. Vermin. Together they confront the doctor and defeat him. Justice is served! The spells are broken! Sheldon takes on work as a cook for the wolves. I do hope pork is not on their menu.
It’s a simple book, simple illustrations and a simple plot. A good read for kids who say they like spooky things but are scared of anything actually scary.