Hey, Kids, Let’s Stay Up All Night!

 Insomniacs

Today’s post is the first in what will be an ongoing, occasional series of reviews of fabulous children’s books. If you want to inspire learning, creativity, and joy in a child, a great place to start is by reading to them. As I’m sure many of you do or did, I read to my children every night when they were growing up. A major favorite was Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks, which became a yelling, finger-snapping, racing-through-the-tongue-twisters adventure.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t very good for making them sleepy. But it was awfully big fun.

Even when my girls got a little “too old” to be read to, we didn’t care. We left Dr. Seuss behind, but we curled up on my giant bed and I read the Harry Potter books and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events out loud to them. “One more chapter!” the older one begged every night. (The younger one didn’t beg. She always fell asleep before I was done.)

So without further ado, let me encourage you to delight your kids–and yourself–with The Insomniacs.

“The Insomniacs weren’t always a night family…”

Written by Karina Wolf and illustrated in dusky shades of midnight blue and charcoal by The Brothers Hilts, the book tells the story of a family that moves twelve time zones away–and finds themselves unable to sleep through the night, which, on the other side of the globe, used to be their day. They try to exist “normally” in their new time zone, dragging themselves off to work and school in the mornings, even as their bodies tell them it’s time for bed. At night, they fight to fall asleep–they count sheep, they meditate, they drink warm milk–but to no avail.

One night, after a family meeting, they head out into the night, searching for the secret of sleep. What they find instead is a whole world of creatures that stay up all night and sleep all day.

“And then the Insomniacs noticed: the darkness was full of life.”

Insomniacs 2

The family is delighted. They decide to do as the bats and owls do and become nocturnal.

The book will appeal to all the little ones who find it so hard to go to bed at night; the idea of a family that wakes at dusk and goes to sleep as the sun rises will tickle their imaginations. There are some great learning opportunities built in, too, like when we meet the daughter’s new pets. Google with your kids when they ask, What’s a bandicoot? What’s a fennec? Discuss with them what they would do if they were to switch their days and nights.

The Insomniacs is a well-written, beautifully illustrated story and a springboard for exploration and creative imagining. Your kids will want to hear it again and again–and so will you.

#indie30 Day 2: Child Detectives Sent Me Overseas

Day 1 of BootsnAll’s #indie30 Project was a big ol’ success around Glorious Curious headquarters: my post and tweet were favorited, retweeted, commented on, and reblogged by the splendid members of the BootsnAll community–and Glorious Curious gained several new followers! Many thanks to all of you who looked so kindly on my writing–your interest and support are so greatly appreciated!

Day 2 tries to pin down the inciting event that made you decide that you were going to be a traveler:

When, where, what, and with who is the story of your travel origin?

I decided I would be a traveler because of five fictional children and their jet-setting adventures.

I was six years old–my hair in pigtails, my nose in a book, and my mom and dad had subscribed me to The Happy Hollisters book club. The Hollisters were five brothers and sisters who solved mysteries with the help of their perfect parents, and every month, they and their adventures were delivered directly to my house by our mailman, who dutifully handed over a small brown box bearing a label addressed to me. To me!

One month I tore open the eagerly awaited box to find The Happy Hollisters and the Punch and Judy Mystery nestled inside. There on the dust jacket were the siblings, cobblestones underfoot, mountains in the background, Italian flag hanging from a puppet theatre where a masked figure of Punch was cavorting. This particular escapade, I realized, took the Hollisters to Italy.

Hollisters

 

I had traveled out of the country before–every summer, my parents and my sister and I flew off to northern Quebec to visit my mother’s family. But the Hollisters were crossing an ocean. They were staying in hotels. That was something else again. I headed straight for the couch and began turning pages.

I’m sure the story was perfection for a six year-old. But here’s the funny thing: I remember almost nothing about it. What I do remember, what I clearly remember thinking as I read that book, was this:

It takes an airplane 8 hours to fly from JFK to Rome. You fly overnight. You wake up in Italy. I will do that when I grow up.

And I did. And the first time I did it, I actually thought of the Hollisters as I boarded the plane. And the grown-up me grinned at taking the travel dream of the pigtailed, bookish, six year-old me and making it real. The story was no longer a story–it was my life.