Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Book Review: Best Loved Good Night Tales

Title: Best Loved Good Night Tales

Author: “Parragon”

Date: 1999

Publisher: Parragon Press

Publisher's web site: http://www.parragon.com/

Publisher's more recent book of similar style, but different content: 

Length: 479 pages

Illustrations: many anonymous black-and-white drawings

Quote: “Molly was a sheep who loved to wander.”

In the first of these thirty-two bedtime stories, Molly the sheep is one of several sheep who have been acquired by people who wanted to take responsibility for only one sheep, not recognizing that sheep prefer to graze in flocks. In their wanderings these sheep find each other and form a flock.

The rest of the publisher-"authored" stories are similarly whimsical and family-friendly. Although this is a thickish book, it’s a paperback, printed on lightweight paper, suitable for children to read to themselves in bed. It’s also a nice collection for adults to read aloud to children who are just beginning to learn to read, or to give to a child to find out whether the child can really be said to be reading yet.

Whose best loved tales these are may never be known. They are original stories, not versions of traditional stories, yet they’re not claimed by an individual author or authors. The suggestion is that these are the tales children loved best from among those the author(s) made up and told children, but which children? Which author? This book has not sold very well in the U.S. and has been allowed to go out of print even in the U.K. Of course, since their merger, Parragon has acquired much flashier, new, competing books...Disney, Eric Carle...

If children think of these tales in competition with those of, say, Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Maxwell, Russell Hoban, Joan Aiken, the Disney movie tie-in collections, or even Thornton W. Burgess, it’s unlikely that these will be their best-loved tales. On the other hand, there is a stage, just before parents and teachers really do lose their minds from rereading the tots’ best-loved tales for the thousandth time, when children reach out for new stories they’ve not heard or read before. (Often this stage coincides with children’s beginning to read for themselves.) That is probably the ideal time for a child to receive this book.

If you miss that precise moment…I wouldn’t worry. Children’s preferences among the stories that are offered to them are individual. Many children are attracted to storybook features like colorful pictures, TV or movie tie-ins, rhyme and rhythm and repetition, and this book doesn’t really offer any of those features…but you never know when a child may become interested in sheep and decide a story about sheep is his or her favorite. Anyway, stories don’t have to be children’s very best loved tales in order to delight children; the mere fact that a real book is being read aloud by a real adult makes it special.

So, Best Loved Good Night Tales is out of print, it's hard to find on Amazon, and it's gone into collector prices...and I acquired a copy for a dime, and I will now offer it for sale for $65 per copy + $5 per package, and it's not even a Fair Trade Book. If you don't want to pay collector prices, scroll down, and/or check out the Amazon links two paragraphs up. If you do, send payment to either address at the very bottom of the screen.