We’re sitting down to a delivery pizza dinner–a meal about which I feel an inordinate amount of guilt. Not, as you might assume, because of the calories represented by the pepperoni swimming in greasy cheese, but because we very rarely had pizza when I was a child. And I mean rarely as in, my mother was suffering from the stomach flu, and literally couldn’t get out of bed to prepare her usual fare, such as 10-vegetable whole wheat pasta. Or zucchini pie. This kind of diet also ruled out such childhood delicacies as Mac n’ Cheese, Lucky Charms, and Twinkies. As a kid, I fantasized about eating Jiffy peanut butter on white bread while I struggled to re-integrate the layer of oil that separates from 100% natural peanut butter. And like most kids my age, pizza was number one on my favorite foods list.
So, needless to say, I was nonplussed by my 5-year old daughter moodily picking at her pizza. “Is something wrong?” her dad asks. “I just want some icecream,” she says. “There will be no icecream until you eat your pizza, young lady!” I declare. Wow. Did that just come out of my mouth? Almost as good as my earlier doozie, “Stop cleaning up right now and put your shoes on!”
Though my statements sound wrongheaded, it’s the underlying principles that I’m trying to teach (i.e., “dinner before dessert”, and “listen to your mother the first time”); it’s that universal struggle to get the kids you love to do what you think is best for them.
This universal struggle extends even to the animal kingdom in this month’s featured book, Little Hoot, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and illustrated by Jen Corace. You and your reader will laugh your way through this unexpected tale about Little Hoot, a happy little owl who enjoys school, playing with his friends, and even minds his mother when it’s time for “pondering practice.” Yet, like all little ones, he does not like bedtime–but for a very different reason than most: “All my other friends get to go to bed so much earlier than me! Why do I always have to stay up and play? It’s not fair!”
Children will enjoy the lovely, yet simple, line drawings and the comic-book-style bubbles revealing Little Hoot’s thoughts. As you BookChat, ask younger readers if they can find four forest friends playing hide-n-seek with Little Hoot, or to point out Little Hoot’s favorite nighttime blankie throughout the book. Older readers will enjoy the ironic reversal of roles as Mama and Papa Owl pull out the familiar stall tactics like “One more story!” and “One more glass of water!” Talk about the stall tactics you used when you were a kid, or ask your readers what they’ll let their kids do when they’re grown-up.
As an extra bonus, you might find that the reverse psychology actually works! Little Hoot’s constant pleas for a little shut-eye and the final relief of his cozy bed may tempt your little night owl into dreamland.