Before he goes to bed, Mr. C likes to have us read him a bedtime story. When I read him a story, I try to read in a calm soothing voice with a low volume monotone. He will fall asleep fairly quickly when I do this, especially when I read a particularly slow moving story. Some of his favorites have been the Richard Scary ‘Busy Town’ stories, ‘Katy and the Big Snow’ by Virginia Lee Burton, Curious George books, and anything by Alice and Martin Provensen. All of which are nice bedtime story material. Recently though, his favorite book has been a book about snakes. This one below. It’s not at all soothing. It’s creepy. The subtitle of the book is “The scariest cold blooded creatures on Earth!”. And to answer the question early, No, we did not buy this one, it was given to him as a gift.
I have nothing against snakes, but this book is making me not like snakes or reptiles at all. But Mr. C will often request it, so I have to pick a snake to read about in my calm sleepy time voice and wait for him to fall asleep. It’s a non-fiction book, formatted to show details on a variety of snakes including a color photo, details on where it lives, what it eats, how long it lives, and a graphic depiction of each snake attacking someone.
Like this woman who is being bitten by an Asian Pit Viper while she is trying to harvest tea leaves on a plantation. Look out!
Or this one, a little girl playing on the beach about to be bitten by a European Adder. “A young girl decides to take a short cut through the dunes. This takes her right into the adder’s sunning spot. The girl treads on the sleepy adder’s coils. Unable to escape, the snake reacts by striking at her leg, sinking its long fangs into her flesh.” It’s just about impossible to read something like this in a calm soothing voice.
So, I make something up. Something like; “The little girl is playing on the beach, and walks by the snake, the snake says ‘hello little girl, I hope you have fun on the beach today!’ And she did have fun on the beach! She played in the sand all day, she made a huge sand castle, and saw a dolphin! Then she went home and had dinner and went to sleep. The end. Are you asleep yet?” “Read the next one Dada!” he says.
He’s perfectly happy with the heavily edited version that I come up with, so it’s not as though he’s upset with my own interpretation. It seems to me that maybe he’s not really even paying that close attention to what I’m saying anyway, he just wants to hear some soothing words before he falls asleep. So it may not be bothering him, but it’s giving me nightmares.
There is a section on Amphibians too, at the back of the book, which is many pages after a large number of people have been bitten in horrible ways. So one time I skipped to that section, thinking that turtles and newts are harmless. How could this book make harmless turtles seem to be at all sinister ?
Well they are sinister! Just look at this poor guy in the canoe! Just paddling along when he gets attacked by turtles in a tree, just waiting for someone like him to come by in a canoe! Here they are jumping off a tree branch onto his head! Bonk! Look out paddling canoe guy, those turtles are going to get you!
Who is this book written for ? Eight year old kids who like horror movies with titles like “Attack of the Tree Turtles!” ?
Maybe if I hide it somewhere he will forget about it and we can get back to the happy adventures of Huckle the Cat in ‘What Do People Do All Day ?’.