When daughter number three joined our family, it seemed like the right time to put the two older girls in the same room. I never shared a room as child, so the idea held a Disney-esque sparkle for me – I imagined giggling softly in the dark, never feeling afraid of shadowy corners, and sharing stuffed animals, late-night whispering that slowly ebbs into blissful sleep.
I was wrong.
Imagine our surprise when our five- and three-year old’s whispering did not gently ease them into dreamland, but crescendoed into ear-shattering screams and raucous laughter. Stuffed animals were bouncing off walls! Children were jumping on beds! And, for heaven’s sake, they had the gall to turn the light back on! We quickly checked their unruliness with a not-so-subtle threat of separation if we heard even One. More. Peep.
Needless to say, it was several peeps later and weeks of persuading, cajoling, threatening, sticker-charting, bribing and pleading before we finally heard the sound of…quiet. 8:00 pm, and all was still. We congratulated ourselves on our competence as parents, and settled in to watch a movie together. As the credits were rolling at about 10:30, we heard a distinct crash. Hearts racing, we rushed into the darkened hall, straining with eyes and ears in the sudden quiet. And then – a faint tap, tap, tap coming from the direction of our daughters’ room. My husband slowly turned the doorknob, his heavy-duty MagLite at the ready. The room was black, except for a tiny strip of light coming from under the closet door. We advanced carefully, held our breaths, and opened the door to reveal –
our three-year old daughter, sitting in a clutter of books and toys. She paused in her play, a My Little Pony suspended in mid-swoop, and greeted us with a cheery, “Hi, guys.” I suppose there are half a dozen morals to be learned from this story, but those that resurfaces almost daily are: (1) Just when you think you have everything under control, get ready to be surprised, (2) Kids have minds (and wills) of their own, and (3) If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Your own little willful ones will adore April’s featured title, Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas, a charming sotry about one resolute gardener and three determined little bunnies. Mr. McGreely has finally decided that this is the Spring to realize his dream of growing his own fresh vegetables. One day, his hard work and patience are rewarded with tiny green sprouts: “Lettuce! Carrots! Peas! Tomatoes!” But his efforts have not been unnoticed by three hungry little bunnies who impertinently enter the garden (“Tippy-tippy-tippy, Pat!”) to have a little taste. Mr. McGreely is furious, of course, and decides to take action. After a wire fence (“Spring-hurdle, Dash! Dash! Dash!”), tall wooden fence (“Dig-scrabble, Scratch! Scratch! Scratch!, and moat (“Dive-paddle, Splash! Splash! Splash!) do nothing to deter the tenacious little bunnies, Mr. McGreely decides to get serious. He builds a huge cinder-block wall complete with spotlights and barbed wire and awakes in the morning to…an undisturbed garden. But don’t believe those bunnies are beaten yet! Enjoy the surprise ending with your reader, while savoring the onomatopoeic language, delightful illustrations, and delicious moral.
Have your little reader point out the three little bunnies in each illustration of McGreely’s attempts to thwart them, and have them guess how the bunnies will overcome each obstacle before turning the page.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for providing this month’s featured book. Please stop by our Facebook page to leave any comments, reactions, or questions. I’d love to hear from you!