Children’s Book of the Week: Once Upon a Time, The End

Once Upon a Time, The End (Asleep in 60 Seconds) by Geoffrey Kloske, illustrated by Barry Blitt

When I first read this book, I thought it was going to be one of those parental inside jokes that grownups find amusing but kids don’t really care about. It’s the story of a father putting his child to bed, and as he gets more weary and the child shows no signs of sleeping, the stories he reads get shorter and shorter, each one ending with the main characters going to bed. So, for instance, the sky falls on Henny Penny, she tries to find the king, finds the fox, gets tired, and immediately falls asleep. It ends with “Why did the chicken cross the road? To go to bed.”

I so, so related to all of this: the hysteria that sets in when your child has been “going to bed” for two hours, and the attempts at manipulating every word of every story and conversation so that it appears that everyone else in the universe is sleeping right now, just in case you happen to get any ideas, you know. (I remember once pouncing shriekily at my mom for starting to read Hey! Wake Up! to Henry after 6:00. “What are you doing?!? We only read sleepy stories at this time!” I was insane. Understandably so.)

Anyway, I was majorly wrong about the kids not liking this book. Apparently they’ve been paying attention, and they totally get the whole thing, and think it’s hilarious. The illustrations help, but really, the book is pretty funny. And yes, you’ll be glad to know that everyone is asleep at the end. Finally.

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