Tag Archives: bedtime stories
Post by Mark T. Locker.
When I was a nerdy 12-year-old boy, my single greatest discovery was the four books that comprised the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. By the time I was fourteen, that trilogy had grown to five books, arguably the longest trilogy ever written. I have been revisiting the series for the first time in many years; so long, in fact, that I had forgotten the entire plots of the final two novels.
If you are unfamiliar with the series, the quick and dirty summary is this: Arthur Dent, earthling, awakes one day to discover bulldozers in his yard, preparing to raze his home to make space for a new highway. But before they can get going on demolishing his home, the planet is suddenly surrounded by a fleet of alien ships, Vogons, to be precise, who are preparing to demolish the planet to make space for a new hyperspatial express route. Luckily for but unbeknownst to Arthur, his best friend Ford Prefect happens to be an alien from Betelgeuse researching the Earth for the reference guide The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He hitches a ride for himself and Arthur on one of the Vogon ships and into relative safety.
The five books follow Ford, Arthur, Ford’s friend Zaphod Beeblebrox, two-headed ex-president of the galaxy, earthling Trillion, and the hopelessly depressed Marvin the android. We learn who really first populated the Earth, what the true purpose of the planet was, and who our secret overlords were all along.
If you or a loved one love absurd yet engaging stories, I cannot recommend this enough. Even if science fiction isn’t your bag, you are likely to enjoy these stories. They are much more than a space drama. Recommended for nerdy adolescents.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Philip Pullman is a renowned children’s and young adult author. He is known most notably for the His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass. These books have become lore in their own right. Now he brings us a fresh telling of his favorite fifty classic fairy tales of the brothers Grimm. We all know these fairy tales, painstakingly collected from numerous oral sources by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. They appear in a number of variations, from the grisly to the shiny Disney versions. Philip Pullman follows the traditional path without whitewashing the stories. But his deft knack with the pen makes these stories a little easier to read. If you’ve read fifty of the Grimm’s tales, you will know that they get pretty weird and the style of writing generally is pretty arcane. Where else will a modern translation still read: “verily, that is the way of the world”? Who says “verily” anymore? I mean, besides me. These new takes are true to the originals but with an easy to follow narrative style.
This summer will be the summer of fairy tales. We have a new bean-covered tepee and a fire pit in the back yard. Every night we will sit in the firelight and read a couple stories. My son is getting the real Cinderella, which is startling in comparison to the cartoon version, as well as off-beat personal favorites such as The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage.
Fairy tales are the perfect length for bedtime reading. The long ones clock in at three to four pages so you can seem super generous by saying, “okay, just one more” two or three times. Happy fireside reading!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat.
We just don’t read as many children’s picture books as we used to. My son constantly has his nose in a book these days so our reading together time has dwindled and is mostly limited to our bedtime chapter book reading. I was recommended this book and am glad I was. Beekle is downright adorable. He is a blobby, white little guy with a gold crown. He is an imaginary friend. Only, he hasn’t been imagined by anyone. All his friends that live in the imaginary friend land get imagined and sent to their new friends. But not Beekle. So he does the unimaginable: he takes matters into his own hands and heads out to find his match.
I love this book. I love a unique story that is lovingly illustrated (author and illustrator Dan Santat was an illustrator of other children’s books before writing his own). This one was awarded the Caldecott Medal, which is America’s highest honor for an American children’s picture book. One look and you will know why. Lots of richly colored and fun to look at pictures make the book a delight to read for kids 3-6 and discriminating adults as well.
The Encyclopedia of Immaturity by Klutz.
I have an aunt who always made an impression on me by her ability to be utterly silly, to make ridiculous jokes, and have fun at everyone’s (including her own) expense. Now that I have my own child, I was both delighted and horrified when she presented him with The Encyclopedia of Immaturity. Brought to you by the editors of the Klutz books, this is the reference books for every child. This book is chock full of pranks, jokes, tricks, and neat little illusions.
Need to learn how to pretend to bonk your head loudly on a table? Do the old “removing your thumb” trick? This is the book for you! If you want to get in a lot of trouble, you can try the old “shaving cream in your napping dad’s hand” trick. Or how to explode a paper bag in a most disruptive fashion.
Upon receiving this book, my son was at first nonplussed. Little did he know the secrets buried within. rest assured, the “DO NOT ENTER LABORATORY” and “CAUTION NUCLEAR WASTE” signs are plastered on his bedroom door! He’s still working on the subtle art of trickery (he is only six, after all) but it has never stopped him from continuing to trick me!
I can’t say I recommend you buy this for your child. But for your nephew, niece, neighbor’s kid, absolutely. Just be sure to look over your shoulder if you find yourself alone with the kid.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
April is here! Spring is in the air and it’s time once again to celebrate National Poetry Month! It’s the one time each year that bookstores dust off their poetry collection and put their Tennyson and Dylan Thomas books out for display. I have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Bad poetry, in my opinion, is the most painful thing to read. But good poetry! O! Tis the sweetest nectar ever drunk! I read a lot of poetry to my son, from Shel Silverstein to Kenn Nesbitt & Jack Prelutsky. Jack Prelutsky is a bit tricky at times; he uses some pretty sophisticated language, which I think takes from my son’s appreciation of the poems.
I love poetry that rhymes. Children’s poems, grown-up poems, you name it. If it rhymes I am way more likely to enjoy it. From Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s eerily weird “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to Dylan Thomas’s beautiful “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” I love the cheerful lilt of the poems, especially when juxtaposed with a solemn subject (Poe, for example).
Here are a few of my favorite collections of poems, some for grown-ups, some for kids, some for everybody.