When I saw “Bedtime Stories” was the subject of the Daily Prompt, I was pretty excited to answer it today*.
Growing up, I was the kid who needed a story in order to fall asleep. To tell you the truth, I still am. I guess that’s why I married an author– I just poke Dave’s arm until he makes up a story. It sounds exhausting for him, but he likes making up fairy tales– and the good thing is, I’ve always been pretty open-minded when it comes to reading or listening to stories. I’m not picky. They can be scary or happy, elaborate or simple, mushy or cold– as long as they are honest and real. Gut-wrenchingly honest. Embarrassingly real.
I don’t mean real in the sense that you’re not allowed to include talking rabbits, or invisible creatures, or secondary planes of existence. No, I mean that when I think of a character, I want to see a little imperfection. When I hear a plot, I want to feel the strife. I want to see a little bit of myself and my life in the book.
Once upon a time, there was a very delicate stage of my reading-life. I remember it clearly because it was a difficult time for everyone. It was a few months where I knew how to read, but it still didn’t come easily. I had a voracious need to chomp through books, but I was a little too proud to have my parents read everything to me. I was a little too slow to actually read all the books I wanted. It was frustrating.
Still, right before bed, I left pride at the door. I’d ask my parents or older siblings to read me a story. Not just any story. No, it had to be one of 6 very specific stories that I loved to read and see.
I knew (and know) these books by heart, but until I started collecting pictures of their covers for this post, I never noticed something. They all have to do with food! I don’t know if that’s just a popular theme in children’s books or if I was just a particular food-lover.
I guess I was just a glutton for bedtime stories and sweet or vegetable-y dreams.
In any case, here they are, in order, starting with my favorite:
This is the story of a woman– her farm and her two sons are caught up in a war. I remember loving how this book was a little dark, a little grown-up. I also loved how senseless it made destruction seem.
This is the story of a little girl who wants to get her mom something for her birthday. She says things like, “My mom likes red”, and Mr.Rabbit, trying to help, says, “Why don’t you get your mom Red then?” Then the little girl says, “I would if I could, but I can’t.” Then he comes up with things that are red, like apples, that she might be able to give instead. I liked this book because it made me feel like you didn’t have to do things 100%. That maybe 60% was still considered wonderful. Plus, I loved how silly the rabbit was. You can’t give someone Red!!
This is the story of two soldiers who come to town, looking for food to eat and a place to rest. No one lets them in, so they weave a story about a magic stone that makes soup– and all they need to show you how the stone makes soup is a pot, and some water, and maybe some carrots… and perhaps some chicken… I like how the townspeople at the end are all friends, and all believers in magic. Friendship and laughter is a sort of magic, yes?
This is the story of Grandpa, who decides to pull a giant turnip from his yard for supper. He can’t on his own so he calls Grandma, and so on. And they pull, and they pull– but nothing. Finally, the little mouse helps and it’s the final nudge needed to remove the turnip. Sometimes the littlest person is the most important.
This is the story of Gregory the Goat who did not want to eat goat food, like tin cans and plastic bags, much to the annoyance of his parents. He wanted scrambled eggs and such. I identified with Gregory, because my house had a lot of fancy ethnic food, and I was the only one who preferred PB&J, grilled cheese, and crackers. Spoiler: Eventually Gregory, just like me, converts partially while keeping his dietary preferences as well.
This is the story of a strange little town where food falls from the sky. It’s a fictional place. Or is it? Food falling from the sky is awesome, especially since it’s so reliable. … or is it?
Have you read all these? Did you have a particular affinity to any of them? Any thoughts about why all my favorite bedtime books in this time period heavily featured food?
* Okay, so it was Yesterday’s Daily Prompt, but I don’t like being late so I’m pretending it was today’s.
(When I saw that some people had not read all these, I decided to update it with short synopsizes in case you wanted to know what they’re all about.)