Putting Dad to Bed

June 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

This Sunday is Father’s Day, so Dad deserves a break. Maybe he should go to bed early. But what if he starts doing cartwheels and runs around the house yelling, “No, no no, I won’t go to sleep!” What if he tries to negotiate one more story (after he has already had two) and then needs to be tucked in just right and then calls you back to leave the hall light on—until you realize: “A Dad who doesn’t want to go to sleep is exhausting!” This is exactly what goes down in the delightful new picture book (originally published in France), titled My Dad is Big and Strong, BUT…: A Bedtime Story (Ages 3-6), by Coralie Saudo, illustrated by Kris DiGiacomo. A little boy tell us: “My Dad is big and strong, but every night it’s the same old story. And this is how it begins: ‘I don’t want to go to bed!’” The ordeal that follows, turning a classic parent-child struggle on its head, will have both boys and girls in stitches. In fact, the book itself is cleverly designed to look like it fell right out of our children’s gleeful imaginations; the illustrations covering the heavy-stock pages have the look of youthful line drawings. Instead of detailed facial features to drive the drama, we get priceless physical comedy: Dad’s sloped shoulders as he hangs his head and pouts; Dad splayed across the floor like a giant beached whale; Dad casting a towering shadow over the boy’s little bed as he “sweetly” asks, “Son? Can I sleep in here with you?” (the wise boy explains to us that he absolutely positively cannot give in to this last request because “then putting him [back] to bed will be mission impossible!”). As a parent reading this book aloud, I especially enjoy the references to what goes on in my own head when I’m at bat: “As Daddy slides under the covers…I tell myself: ‘Hang on, we’re almost there!'” Hey, hang on, maybe this book will engender a little empathy in our kiddos for the struggle we parents go through every night in the real world. And that might just be the best Father’s Day gift of all.

Dad swinging from the chandelier as his son tries to bribe him down with a bedtime story…

Another Fun Favorite With a Reversal of Roles in the Bedtime Ritual:
Bedtime for Mommy, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & LeUyen Pham (Ages 3-6)

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