Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Rogues At Rest

At an early age they enter the world of stories stored in our memories.  The huffer-puffer of homes, a granny imitator, the baker of gingerbread houses, a mirror watcher, the spell caster of long sleeps, a spinner of straw, a fee-fi-fo-fum guy liking Englishmen, and a guarder of bridges all play a part.  It's a part that fills the hearts of others with fear.

At the stories' end, is it really the end?  When you open the book, there they are again.  Good Night, Baddies (Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, May 17, 2016) written by Deborah Underwood with illustrations by Juli Kangas follows these doers of dastardly deeds.

Sun slips down; the day has gone.
Witches, wolves, and giants yawn.
Queen and dragon, troll and gnome:
tired baddies head for home

Well, this is without question an unexpected turn of events.  These baddies dwell one and all in a formidable fortress.  Once inside it's easy to see by night these folk are downright friendly.

A meal is shared before bedtime preparations commence.  Snow White's nemesis dons her nightie.  A muddy monster cleans up his act.  The girl in the hood and porkers numbering three rest easy as their foes floss.

Books are read and tales are told as nighttime rituals unfold.  The largest of the residents, teddy bear in hand, is afraid of royalty that might be hiding beneath his bed.  Eyelids droop and dwellers doze.

When cuddled under comforters, a howling song drifts through the starry night air.  Baddies bid the day adieu.  Their dreams are...

Deborah Underwood peels back a layer we believe to be true giving us a different view.  Lilting lyrical four-line verses rhyme; the first and second, then the third and fourth.  It's a fracturing of many fairy tales blended together as one.  Here is another passage.

Wolves, today was not so good.
You didn't catch Red Riding Hood.
You huffed and puffed without success.
But brush your fangs, please, nonetheless.

A single illustration spans the matching dust jacket and book case.  We are shown a gathering of fairy tale foes but they appear as friends.  Rumpelstiltskin reads aloud as a dragon, witch and wolf listen.  From the left a pajama-clad troll, carrying a lacy pillow, joins the group.  Don't you just love that the wolf has a pig stuffed toy?  The pillows, braided rug, glowing lamp, books on the sill, a pitcher of milk and a glass nearby complete the cozy image.  Stars and a crescent moon are framed by an arched window.

The opening and closing endpapers ask us to pause first noting all the baddies doing their deeds during the day and second to watch them sleep at the end.  Oval shapes framed by intricate vines hold the twelve different portraits.  There might be spiders and webs and a few bats too.  These are done in two hues of brown.

Thirteen double-page pictures in a full color palette rendered in watercolor with oil washes over the top by Juli Kangas begin with the title page and continue with the verso and dedication pages.  With each page turn you will feel compelled to stop, enjoying all the details included by Kangas.  A house mouse and a black cat are shown in most of the visuals.  The dragon and wolf are passing a tossed salad to each other at dinner. Vegetarians?  The face in the queen's mirror is sleeping.  You will appreciate the framed pictures on the giant's bedroom wall.

One of my favorite images shows the area outside the bathroom door as well as inside the bathroom.  We get a glimpse of the queen wearing slippers with crowns coming down the stairs.  A waiting witch is reading the Bad News as the cat cleans its paws.  Rumpelstiltskin is wondering when he gets to bathe.  He did remember to bring his rubber ducky.  The troll is soaking in a bubble bath, bunny slippers next to the tub.  Guess who is scampering by a bridge seen through the window?  The details in this picture are seen throughout the book.

You are most certainly going to want to add Good Night, Baddies written by Deborah Underwood with illustrations by Juli Kangas to your bedtime story collections at home and at school.  With a cheerful cadence it asks us to consider the familiar in an unfamiliar way.  It will prompt discussions about other fairy tale characters and how they might be seen differently.

To learn more about Deborah Underwood and her other books please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  Deborah has a song on the page dedicated to this title which you can download.  She beautifully sings the story to us.  At the publisher's website you can view additional interior illustrations.  Please spend a few minutes at Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read. as he chats with Deborah Underwood about this book, school libraries and some of her other books.  Deborah Underwood writes a guest post at author Tara Lazar's Writing for Kids (While Raising Them).  Educator Dylan Teut chats with Deborah Underwood at Mile High Reading.  Enjoy the book trailer.

UPDATE:  There is a Story Hour Kit!


  1. I love Deborah's books, so this is another I'm really looking forward to reading!

    1. I love all her books too, Maria. You are going to love this one. And when she sings the matching lullaby it's absolutely perfect.