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Friday, November 14, 2014

While You Were Napping, written by Jenny Offill and illustrated Barry Blitt. Schwartz & Wade, Random House. 2014. $19.99 ages 5 andu up

"The construction workers
were the first to come.
They were bored with building,
they said,
and so they asked all of us kids
to take over their bulldozers
for them.
Too bad you were fast asleep,
because you would have liked it,
I bet."

Oh, my! This is the fun that any older sister should have had at some point in life with a younger brother. I wish I had written it! It had me laughing out loud, and I love doing that!

It has nothing to do with being unhappy with that other child who shares your life when you are young. It has much more to do with taking a little revenge. I loved him then, and love him still. I don't remember much of the family tale told  of my dumping him out of his carriage when he wouldn't stop crying, and our mom was inside getting food for a picnic. I was only two and a half; I was annoyed. Here I was bouncing the carriage up and down, and still he cried. Fine, I gave him something to cry for, and didn't hurt him one bit. Our mom did find him on the ground next to the carriage. Just one the bumps he swears I untrue!

So, when I read this story about a sister who seems primed to assure her brother that he needed sleep more than he needed to partake of all that happened while he was doing so, I couldn't wait to read it myself...and then out loud to others! It is definitely a keeper, and will join Jenny Offill's other books on that special shelf.

"Maybe you were right
to scream like you did
when Mom picked you up
and took you to your bed.
Just a little nap, she said.
You won't miss a thing,
I promise.
And I guess you didn't...
...unless you count
the giant party that started after she went out."

The final full watercolor spread is as wonderful as every other illustration, and shows the sister sitting at the end of his bed, while her younger brother - arms folded and face showing his abject sadness -
is listening to all that she has to say about the day's fun. His walls, drapery, floors and tables show evidence of those things he most loves. They comprise a dinosaur model, robots, a bulldozer, a fire engine, a spaceship and spaceship curtains, a pirate book on the floor and a pirate portrait on the wall. Each has a place in the story being told. Oh, and there were french fry sandwiches and fireworks, too...

"Luckily, you slept right through it."

Vile? Or, so satisfying? I leave it for you to decide. I will be reading it repeatedly over the coming months. I think I might even read it to my brother when he visits this evening!  I know he will LOVE it! He has a great sense of humor...                                                               

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