Friday, April 15, 2011

Verb Play: Bedtime Bunnies by Wendy Watson



Along with the familiar sandbox and slide set, our kids have another playground to explore and master as they grow--the English language.

Veteran author Wendy Watson's newest, Bedtime Bunnies (Clarion, 2010) is a simple-seeming little bedtime story, with cute, rounded bunnies bundled off to bed with the usual familiar routines--snacks, toothbrushing, pajama-ing, snuggle-story time, and lights out, all comforting and predictable pro forma steps in the traditional bedtime tale. Watson, however, measures and weighs her language sparingly and expertly, with each activity described by only four words--onomatopoetic verbs, with plenty of alliteration and rhymes sprinkled throughout to give them punch.

The bunnies don't just eat their bedtime carrots--they chomp, they munch, they gobble, they crunch. They don't just brush teeth--they squirt, they scrub, they splutter, they spit. Watson's rounded little bunnies bounce exuberantly through this nighttime ritual, four of them compliant, one just a little bit of a maverick, until all are finally tucked in bed for the final goodnight hugs and kisses.

It's a sweet story that'll have most kids moving toward nighty-night time themselves, but not without a little language lesson along the way. Bedtime Bunnies offers almost irresistible opportunities for parents to encourage a little bedtime wordsmith improvisation of their own and a bit of fun at the end of the day that sends the little ones off to dreamland with a smile.

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