Picture Books

Once upon a time, the end

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the last thing I feel like doing at the end of the day is to read the same old books out loud to my children.  Sometimes I don’t even like my children after 7 p.m. I’m tired, the books they pick are mind-numbing, the day’s been too long already and I have no patience to sit and read to them.  That’s sad to say because I feel like reading to my children falls into the same category as making sure they brush their teeth.  It’s necessary, it’s a failure on my part if we don’t do it, and it’s something you can’t really put off very often.  I mean, you can justify skipping a tooth brushing on rare occasions, but several times a week?  That way leads to Cavityville and Gingivitistown.

I thought of that myself.

Anyway, skipping reading time to my kids is just as detrimental to their health as dirty, skeezy teeth.  Despite all the many joyful hours I have spent in the last near-decade reading to my kids, there are times that I don’t feel like doing it at all.

I know somebody out there understands this because they wrote about it.  I found a gem of a book on the PBS Booklights blog recently called Once Upon A Time, The End: (asleep in 60 seconds) by Geoffrey Kloske and illustrated by Barry Blitt.  It’s a book written from the perspective of an exhausted father who would rather not read stories for hours at bedtime because he’s tired and wants his child to go to bed.  He starts to condense the stories, leaving out parts and usually ending each story with “and they went to sleep.  The end.”  At first he’s just shortening well-known stories and then he’s picking only short nursery rhymes and then editing those.  The story of Goldilocks and the Bears starts out with “There were some bears, it doesn’t really matter how many.  There was a bunch.  Let’s get to the point.”  That cracked me up, but what did me in was this nursery rhyme:

Hickory, dickory, dock

The mouse ran up the clcok.

The clock struck eight.

Oh my, it’s late!

So the mouse went straight to bed.

You can feel the father’s exasperation with trying to get his child to sleep by how he didn’t even attempt to make his revised version rhyme.  It gets funnier and the tales get shorter as you near the end of the book.  What was ironic is how long the book is, considering that it’s about shortening stories.  It was worth it, though.

This picture book was such fun to read for all of us.  My older kids laughed at the jokes and re-writes while my younger children were in awe at how different the stories are than what they know.  It reminded me of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, except more tame and less gruesome and slightly disturbing.  The best part is that I looked forward to story time the last few nights, despite my days being long and crazy.  Maybe it’s because there’s someone out there that can relate to wanting their kids to just go to bed, for cryin’ out loud.


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One response to "Once upon a time, the end". Comments are closed for this post.
  • Caren says:

    I confess that I am a terrible bedtime story reader! I think the idea of a cozy bedtime story must have been invented for families with only one child. Because bedtime is such a circus at our house that any quality reading usually has to happen earlier in the day.

    This looks like another great recommendation!