Here’s a list of books we think are a real challenge to get all the way through in one piece, especially with an audience. We dare you to read them out loud. Bonus points if you read them to a child all the way through without getting the puzzled “what’s up with the adult?” stare.
(helpfully supplied by some central library storytime readers and other picture book enthusiasts)
- The Big Ugly Monster and The Little Stone Rabbit, Chris Wormell – a story of feeling lonely, the need for friendship, and death (in general, rather than “the need for”). The monster is so ugly that nothing can stand him; ponds evaporate, and the stone statues he creates to keep him company shatter… except for the little stone rabbit.
- The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein – the tree gives, well, basically everything. Incidentally, don’t be put off by the author photo (he looks like Mr T).
- Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, Michael Rosen with illustrations by Quentin Blake – yes it is very sad. The product description says: “What makes Michael Rosen most sad is thinking about his son, Eddie, who died.”
- Always and Forever, Alan Durant – on the subject of grief, Fox dies very early in the piece, leaving his friends bereft until they rally and find ways to honour his memory.
- Badger’s Parting Gifts, Susan Varley – similar to Always and Forever. “So cute it makes your teeth ache” says one library staff member.
- Duck, Death and The Tulip, Wulf Erlbruch – first published in German. Duck befriends Death, but is this a good idea really? Vielleicht nicht.
- Love You Forever, Robert Munsch – as time passes family roles are reversed.
- Goodbye Mog, Judith Kerr – sad perhaps because people have invested a lot of time in the Mog stories. It’s like losing a pet. The forgetfulness is maybe a forewarning.
- The Selfish Giant, Oscar Wilde (in Fairy tales of Oscar Wilde) – as far as children’s stories go, Oscar Wilde knew how to make em wistful. Here the titular giant learns a lesson the Giving Tree could have taught him – selflessness is what makes the flowers grow.
- The Happy Prince, Oscar Wilde (here illustrated by Jane Ray) – one of the biggest tearjerkers like ever. The Giving Tree’s big brother, this one might well be.