Tag Archives: bedtime stories
Bedtime Stories: Pete’s a Pizza
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Pete’s a Pizza by William Steig.
It’s rainy. Kids want to go outside and play with their friends but they can’t. They get grumpy. They are too bored to do anything. They just want to sit around and scowl and mope. Pete is scowling and moping because it’s raining. Pete’s dad isn’t bored. He is hungry. So he decides to make Pete into a pizza. For most of the story, we are watching Pete’s parents as they make him into a pizza, from sprinkling him with flour (it’s really talcum powder) to covering him with tomatoes (they’re really just checkers) and placing him in the oven (just the sofa). Despite himself, he can’t help laughing as he gets tossed and stretched like a ball of dough.
It’s a funny story that little kids are sure to get a kick out of. It also offers a glimpse into all the ridiculous things you can do with a crabby bored child to get him/her out of his/her crabby mood. Who knows? you might just feel better yourself!
Bedtime Stories: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath.
This is one of the silliest books I have read in a while. It was very refreshing. And it’s not just silly in the random insert-something-arbitrary-and-silly-here kind of book; it was actually, literally laugh out loud funny. Just ask my wife! Polly Horvath is enormously talented at writing subtle humor that children and adults alike will laugh at.
Madeleine is a smart girl with some utterly useless, kinda dumb parents. So when they go missing, she knows she must find them, because they are pretty much helpless without her. Her only clues are a letter signed “The Enemy” and a coded card with reference to rabbits and rabbit by-products. Spoiler alert: it’s foxes.
Luckily, Madeleine meets Mr. and Mrs. Bunny just when they had decided to buy fedoras so they could be detectives. Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have never detected before. Madeleine worries that she may be putting too much faith in them, not because they are new in the game but because they are bunnies. What Madeleine quickly learns is that the Bunnys are the closest she will come to being cared for and loved. And that marmots are very stupid and very fond of the Olde Spaghetti Factory. (These two points are not related. Probably.) Mr. and Mrs. Bunny are charming and adorable. I would love to be adopted by them.
Poignant, funny, action-packed, this book can be read by even as slow a reader as me in just a couple days. It’s well worth it!
Bedtime Stories: Moon Over Manifest
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.
So, here’s the thing about Newbery Medal-winning books. Most of the time they are pretty good, but they also tend to follow a theme of kid on his/her own, seeking lost something, hardship, struggle, overcoming. Some of those books are groan-inducing, as least to a seasoned cynic such as myself; others are actually fantastic works of literature. If I had read Moon Over Manifest before it was awarded the 2011 Newbery Medal, I would certainly have pegged it as a contender. However, the story and the narrative voice are so wonderful that I don’t mind how “Newbery-y” it is. Anyways, here it is:
Abilene Tucker has roamed the country with her dad doing odd jobs her whole life. But suddenly, in the summer of 1936, the thirteen-year-old is sent by her father to his old home town of Manifest, Kansas to live with his old bootlegger friend Shady Howard. What unfolds in the aftermath is Abilene’s journey (yup, another personal journey!) to try to understand who her father is by learning about the town he came from. Through a box of old letters discovered in Shady’s house, and the stories told to her by the Hungarian diviner, Abilene learns about the history of the town, and yes, about herself and her father as well.
It’s a great story about a hot summer in the 1930’s at an age when you teeter on the line between carefree youth and the weight of understanding and learning about the world in which you live. Good stuff.
Bedtime Stories: Civil Rights Stories for Kids
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier.
Using simple but powerful words and beautiful images, the story of Dr. King’s fight for equality is recounted here.
This book, which won the Coretta Scott King Award, the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award and a Caldecott Honor, tells of the life, struggles, death and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. written in simple small sentences and accompanied with notable quotes from Dr. King himself, all the major moments of his life are told in a way which will be easily understood by children young and old.
Bryan Collier’s collages are strikingly beautiful and bring together photographs and illustrations in a truly eye-catching manner. Often a bit bleak in color, there are occasional flashes of color like bursts of hope in the struggle for equality. This excellent recounting of the life and death of Dr. King makes clear the depth of the struggle, the bravery of those who risked their life for rights, and the legacy this man left behind.
When Marian Sang: the true recital of Marian Anderson. Pam Muñoz Ryan; illustrated by Brian Selznick.
Straightforward text, accompanied by song lyrics and illustrations by Brian Selznick, this rich book tells the story of singer Marian Anderson’s struggle as a beloved black singer in a racist America.
Born in 1897, Marian Anderson was immediately singled out for her singular voice. As an African-American, this was a complicated thing, as her voice was loved by all who heard it, but because she was black she could not perform many places. Like many black performers of her time, she traveled overseas to make a name, as Europe in the 20s was not as discriminatory.
The text of this book is at once condescending and complex. These are heavy topics to cover in a book for young children. Caldecott-winning illustrator carries the book. Were it not for his rich illustrations, the book wouldn’t be half as good as it is. The way Marian Anderson helped shake the racial divide was significant and it is well addressed in this book. Culminating with her historic performance in front of the Lincoln Memorial, the book successfully shares the frustrations and accomplishments of her life.
Bedtime Stories: Jan Brett’s Beauty and the Beast
Finding a good illustrated version of a classic fairy tale can be quite a challenge. All too often, the illustrations are ugly, or creepy, or both. The below picture is an excellent example, even though it comes from one of my childhood books and I kind of want to get a copy and kind of never want to see it again:
If terrified ambivalence is not something you are interested in, and being awoken by children/partners afraid of creepy-ass Bosch-styled monsters isn’t your thing, then you might want to check out Jan Brett’s books. She has illustrated and retold literally millions of tales, from the Ukrainian folk tale The Mitten to a version of Three Little Pigs set in Namibia. My boy’s new favorite is her version of Beauty and the Beast.
After seeing the Jean Cocteau and the Disney versions, (oh and that Ron Perlman take too) it would be difficult to approach this classic Perrault story with fresh eyes. But Jan Brett does a fantastic job. The beast isn’t even a lion thing like he is in every other version. He’s a big hairy hog! Which is far less sexy than a lion, which makes Beauty’s decision to marry him that much nobler.
But seriously, it’s no wonder she has 37 MILLION books in print. She’s a terribly talented illustrator. The pictures are so rich and filled with little hidden treats for kids to pick out of the details. Fun.