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Monday, October 31, 2016

Good Night, Baddies. Written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Juli Kangas. Beach Lane, 2016. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"Poor old troll,
your life is tough:
a muddy wait for
three goats gruff.
You deserve a nice
long scrub,
so add some bubbles
to the tub.
Wolves, today was
not so good."

Halloween seems the perfect time to give some love to the bad guys of fairy tale fame. It rarely happens, does it? Today I am sharing a bedtime story that gives voice to those bad ones ... witch, wolf, giant, troll, gnome, dragon. You know them!

Seems they like to get together at the end of their trying days and talk together before bed. They spend time sharing news of that day, and asking questions of others who tell of their trials and tribulations. It's great for winding down.

"Baddies sit politely dining,
no one throwing food or whining.
All day long they must be vile;
now, at night, they chat and smile."

The characters are tender and kind-hearted, the background is quiet and peaceful. Ms. Underwood's rhymes are matched brilliantly by the watercolor images washed with oils. Readers will have a great deal of fun associating each of the spreads with familiar folks from their favorite fairy tales.

They begin with a chase - a terrified Jack holding the golden goose and running while a sweaty, somber giant follows in his footsteps, crushing all trees in his path. Then, each 'baddie' (including the giant) finds the way home to a cordial castle setting where there is no evident anger or animosity. There will be much discussion of and wonder at the details created by Ms. Kangas.

Strange to learn that we have much in common with those who create chaos and concern within the pages of beloved books. They, too, are tired at the end of long, busy days and seek the pleasures of a delicious meal, a warm bath and a shared story before turning out the lights.

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