365 Bedtime Stories
by Christine Allison
Published by Broadway Books
430 pages, 1998
Buy it online
From 365 Bedtime Stories by Christine Allison
The One-Eyed Doe
A doe who was grazing near a lake had but one eye. Knowing that she must be vigilant against possible enemies, she decided to keep her eye towards the land, thinking that hunters were more likely to come from that direction.
But some sailors rowed by in a boat and, seeing her, aimed from the water... and shot her. "Oh, what a quirk of far," said the doe as she lay dying. "I was safe on the side of the land from where I expected to be attacked but found an enemy in the lake, from where I presumed I would find my protection!"
Our troubles often come from places where we least expect them. - AESOP
Flawed but Fun
Reviewed by Linda L. Richards
The idea behind Christine Allison's 365 Bedtime Stories is a good one. A big, fat hard bound book packed with 365 stories gathered from various sources and intended to be read to children at bedtime. Allison and some friends have obviously done a serious amount of work gathering and creating the stories, editing them to an appropriate format and organizing them into appropriate categories: i.e. January is a time for, "second chances and resolutions." So in that month we get The Little Match Girl and other hopeful stories; October is a time for scary stuff, December is full of Christmas and so on.
The stories chosen for inclusion come from a variety of sources. Many of the standards are here, sans PC pruning. There are children's stories from many cultures and some that were written especially for this book. In that regard Allison is more editor of this work than author, though as a regular contributor to Reader's Digest she was especially well prepared for the undertaking because the stories are digested: most of them are intended to be read aloud at a single sitting.
While the undertaking will have been vast, and the execution is admirable the work is -- in some ways -- very flawed. At an age when children enjoy being read to most -- from two to perhaps four or five when they begin reading on their own -- kids seem to most enjoy visuals illustrating the stories. Hence the amazing and enduring popularity of children's picture books. The illustrations in 365 Bedtime Stories are simplistic and sketchy at best. Older children are hopefully reading on their own and of what interests them: and some of those books will have pictures as well. The material in 365 Bedtime Stories is more advanced, as well. Suitable for older children, though perhaps in a less restrictive format.
It might also be more accurate to call the book Almost 365 Bedtime Stories because -- in truth -- the count is not quite made. For example, on February 6th we're given Sleeping Beauty. On February 7th, the selection is Sleeping Beauty, Variation 1 which is the French variation of the tale. And on February 8th comes Sleeping Beauty, Variation 2 which is the Brothers Grimm version. In both variation entries, the tale is not re-told, we're given only the different ending.
For all its flaws -- and there are several -- 365 Bedtime Stories is an honest attempt at a difficult task. The stories are worth reading and sharing, however and Allison deserves kudos for gathering so many stories from so many cultures into one binding. | November 1998
Linda L. Richards is the author of Death Was in the Picture.