Friday, December 19, 2008


As a parent who is trying to raise a child with a lifelong love of reading, the bedtime story is an immutable part of our evening routine.

However, once he has finished pointing out all the pictures in the books that catch his fancy, Little Sprout usually loses interest and tries to run off. What's a mother to do? Make sure the story is entertaining for you too, of course.

Tonight I read a new holiday book: The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming - a Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket. True to persnickety type, the main character is an increasingly irate latke (a potato pancake) trying in vain to get a little respect from three Christmas-centric icons.

The Latke story appeals to me kids of all ages. It is irreverent, silly and blends holiday traditions while managing to teach about Hanukkah.

Before we go any further, my favorite stuffed toy as a child was a Jonnycake (a cornmeal cake that was a pioneer staple) which had yarn hair, hands and feet sticking out from its perfectly round body. Much like the Gingerbread Man, early memories involved the Johnnycake jumping out of a hot oven and running away. Presumably screaming.

Anthropomorphic flapjacks railing against their lot.
(See, the symmetry is almost poetic.)

Er, um . . . back to bedtime reading.

At first, Little Sprout didn't show the slightest interest in this story. He would wander off to play with Matchbox cars or trains or beg Big Daddy to flip him upside-down in a somersault. But I kept on reading aloud.

When the latke started screaming Little Sprout took notice. He could identify with a hysterical hashbrown that frustrated little latke. Whenever I would exclaim, he joined in with his own loud, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

After storytime was finished I said, "Sprout, what does the latke say?" and he rushed up to me (hugging me at the knees) and yelled, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!"

I think we just started a new holiday tradition.

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