Rants, raves, fiction, and laughs

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bedtime for Bedlam

This is based off an ACTUAL book my daughter has. It features a dog prominently in the story but there is neither name nor even mention of said dog in the narrative. It's driven me to distraction why that's the case. It's Chekov's dog, I guess.

Linus sat on the edge of Fia’s bed and enjoyed the momentary peace of it all. His young daughter was freshly laundered and smelling of soap with lavender, she was in a clean nightgown and sitting calmly under the worn quilt on her trundle bed. They’d mumbled through a quick prayer together in mutual uncertainty and he’d tucked her in.
It was now story time.

“What would you like to read?” he asked Fia.

“I want that new book that Aunt Rumia bought me,” chirped Fia

“Alright then,” said Linus picking up the new book. Like all the others it was printed on coarse linen and bound with worsted. Unlike the others, the pages on this were free of food stains, handprints and bodily fluids, the pictures were clear and crisp, and the pages could actually bend.

The Princess and the Glass Mountain,” he began in his strong baritone. “Princess Beatrice lived in a castle with her Mother and Father, the King and Queen of Ashburn.
“I can’t see the pictures,” said Fia pulling his arm closer.

“Here,” said Linus showing Fia a picture of a lithe little girl with the typical blonde hair and blue eyes that all princesses had. Fia nodded in approval. This one even had a pointy hat with a scarf on it.
One day, she was playing in the castle courtyard when she slipped and dropped her crown,” Linus read.
Fia was gazing in rapt attention at the vivid picture when she stabbed the page with her chubby finger.
“She’s playing with the dog,” observed Fia, interrupting her father.
“That’s right,” nodded Linus. “When she slipped and dropped-"
“What’s the dog’s name?” asked Fia.

Linus was nonplussed. “Why’s the dog important? “ he mumbled. “I don’t know, Fia.”
Fia frowned. This answer was CLEARLY not good enough. “What’s the story say about the dog?” she asked.

Linus sighed and glanced at the page. “It doesn’t say,” he said.

“It must say!” insisted Fia.

Linus grunted and scanned the rest of the book. There was a jade needle, three faeries, a swineherd, an old hungry man in the forest, a handsome prince, and a talking badger… but no mention of the mystery canine or what its name might be.
“It really doesn’t say. Can we get a move on?” asked Linus. Fia scowled but nodded acquiescence and Linus continued the narrative when there on the next page was the dog again.

“THERE!” cried Fia. “The dog again! It MUST say what his name is! Check it!”

Linus groaned. It was going to be one of THOSE nights.  “It doesn’t say, Fia.”

“Why not?” demanded Fia.

“I don’t know,” groaned Linus, rather sore at the Dunray Kiddie-Rag Publishing Company. Why would ANY children’s book put a dog in the story without mentioning it or naming it? Didn’t they realize that parents had things to DO at night?

“Can’t we just forget the dog and go on with the story?” he pleaded.

Fia glared at him and pursed her lips in a perfect imitation of her mother.

“There’s a talking badger,” he coaxed.

It didn’t work.
“Fine. Fia, why don’t you name the dog?”

Fia thought for a moment, “The dog’s name is Ruff,” she said.

“Jolly good. Let’s back up a bit and get on with it, One day, she was playing in the castle courtyard

“With Ruff,” interjected Fia.

“—with Ruff— when she slipped and dropped her crown. The crown was horribly bent by a stone and Princess Beatrice,”

“Was he her dog?” asked Fia.

“What?” Asked Linus.

“Ruff. Was he Princess Beatrice’s dog?”

Linus swallowed a loud curse. “What do you think, Fia?” he asked, his 'gentle voice' fraying at the edges a little.

“I don’t think he’s the princess’s dog because she didn’t know his name,” said Fia after a gargantuan pause.

“Ther you are then,” snapped Linus before reading again. “The crown was horribly bent by a stone and Princess Beatrice—“

“Who did he belong to?” asked Fia.

And Princess Beatrice was very upset. She cried by a duck pond until a friendly duck hopped out of the water and shook the water out of its feathers,” Linus read, ignoring her.


’Why are you crying princess?’ asked the Duck.”


“I’m crying because my crown is bent and I’m afraid to tell King Papa!’ said the—”


“said-the-princess-the-duck-quacked-happily-and-said-‘cry-no-more-for” Linus rattled off at a furious pace before Fia shouted, “DAA-DEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

“WHAT??” he snarled at her.

Fia only blinked, used to her father’s outbursts. “Who does Ruff belong to?”

“Linus glanced at the page and noticed a non-descript man in the background castle activites. “Him,” he said pointing.

“Who is he?” asked Fia.

“That’s… er… Ted.... Ted the Falconer.”

“Does he live in the Castle?”


“Where in the castle?” asked Fia.

“Above the East Gate… right above the moat,” said Linus, inventing madly.

“Does Ruff like the moat?” asked Fia.

“Yes. He likes swimming.”

“In the moat?” asked Fia. “Don’t the crocodiles get him?”

“Well this moat isn’t stocked with crocodiles.”

“What’s stocked mean?”

“I mean there aren’t any crocodiles. Only fish.”


“… erm.. Ted and Ruff like to go fishing.”

“It’s the King’s moat, Dad, not his,” said Fia, probing the hole in his logic.

“The King comes too. The Queen makes them a picnic,” said Linus, feeling his brain teeter a little. “Can we get back to the story about Princess Beatrice?”

“No thank you, Daddy. I want to hear about Ted and Ruff and the King going fishing and having a picnic.”

Linus sighed and held his head in his hands.

“How’s about YOU tell the story, and I go to sleep?”


Sonia said...

LOL This is funny. Made me laugh at the end. I can sooo picture this happening, too. Poor Dad.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Silly Linus. Story time may include holding a book, but not necessarily reading the book. Fia has a lot of work to do....

[The verification word is "nowme"... how does it know???]

Monica Marier said...

Sonia: Some of those comments were taken from the real "Fia."

Tim: NOW YOU. Storytime can be a Siddarta-sized excercise in the art of patience.*L*

Eric J. Krause said...

Ha! Good one. Reading to kids has its special little challenges as Linus now knows.

John Wiswell said...

That book really ticked you off. I didn't realize the magnitude when you tweeted about it. Glad if I had some part in this - your mom-centric fiction is often my favorite.

Jen Brubacher said...

*laughs!* Oh, I feel for you and Linus. Cruel children's books!

Matt Merritt said...

So sweet, and so true. Nicely told.