Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I love telling Beatrice dreadful stories at bedtime about young girls in harrowing situations who save themselves by being "quiet as a mouse and still as stone." She is always the girl and she always falls asleep in no time.

One is about Goldilocks and the Three Bears at Night. The bears are still hungry that night after Goldilocks meddled with their porridge. Goldilocks is in bed (with her door shut and locked, her closet light off because she refused to hush!) when she hears a low, angry growl (1) under the bed, (2) in the closet and (3) outside her window. Soon her room is swarming with hangry bears and the only way she might go undetected is to play dead, er, pretend to be asleep. This story has worked for nights and nights on end. I leave her looking asleep and within a few minutes she really is!

Now we have a July in Berea edition. (Or do people all over the place continue shooting fireworks all month.) This story is called The Firecracker Witch. It is about a witch who cannot stand bright children and seeks to destroy them. She invents a kind of firecracker that is so loud the children jump out of bed screaming. The magic part is that the firework can find the children, smashing right through their windows and into their beds, exploding into a nightmare of fire and lava that consumes them. But only if they are moving and/or making noise.

I fill these stories with a lot of detail and suspense, enjoying the way her eyes grow wide along the way, our faces close. She is so earnest and innocent. But she is smart, too. She knows they are stories, not real. But it's a fun game to close the day and Beatrice likes to suspend disbelief as much as her mama does.

All these images are illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.