Monday, September 28, 2009

Bedtime Stories are on my mind as I wait to welcome the newest edition to my extended family. I love the idea of fathers reading to their children so here are three fun bedtime books for/about dads, but with a twist.

Daddy's Song written by Leslea Newman and published by Henry Holt, has a father strumming his guitar as he sings rather than reads his little girl to sleep. The lyrics to his song are written in rhyming couplets, each full of fun and whimsy that readily lend themselves to reading aloud. The song begins, "If ice cream cones fall from the sky / And cats grow wings and start to fly" and continues on to the end with each imaginative line richly illustrated in a fanciful echoing of the text.

Night Shift Daddy written by Eileen Spinelli and published by Hyperion Books for Children, begins with the traditional bedtime ritual of Daddy tucking his daughter into bed, but then turns the story around. Daddy is heading to his job as a night janitor and returns home the next morning where the father/daughter roles are reversed as he is the one tucked into bed for a well-earned rest. This is another rhyming story, beautifully illustrated in glowing colors.

The title Once Upon a time, the end: (asleep in 60 seconds) written by Geoffrey Kloske and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, is the only hint you need to understand that here the bedtime ritual is turned upside down. Desperate to get his young son to sleep, a harried father meets his son's pleas for "one more story" with a strategy known by any read-aloud parent...leaving out a few words here and there to speed the story to its conclusion. The father's plan takes on a life of its own as the Three Little Pigs become two, Little Red Riding Hood is reduced to a two-beat poem and other tales are relentlessly shortened in ways that still convey their essence with hysterical accuracy. The increasingly fractured fairy tales are interspersed with not-so-subtle hints from the father "Why did the chicken cross the road? To go to sleep." The illustrations by New Yorker cartoonist Barry Blitt strike just the right tone for this irreverent bedtime romp. A word of caution though -- this story is more likely to produce giggles than sleep.

Here are the answers for last week's Famous Firsts:

1. "Ma, a mouse has to do what a mouse has to do." Ragweed by Avi.

2. "Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs." The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.

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