A Dark and Stormy Night

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It was a dark and stormy night – literally. I was sitting at home by myself, and at 5:30 p.m. it was already as dark as midnight. Outside, a nor’easter was raging. I’ve lived here long enough to know to plan for a power outage and have a flashlight by my side, but the only thing I had next to me was a cup of hot chocolate. I was at the computer and Alison Krauss was singing (courtesy of internet radio). I was settling into a few hours of what I expected to be a quiet time to work when all of the sudden, I was sitting in total blackness. The power was out, and I literally couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I sat there for a moment making a plan. My first destination was to find our camping lantern. Not that we camp, but having it makes my husband and son hopeful that they will. And I love it because it’s a provides good light to read by when there’s no electricity.

Once I had the lantern, my next mission was to locate a blanket, a sweatshirt, a box of crackers, and five new picture books I wanted to read. To be honest, as happy as I was with my little “indoor camping experience,” I was not relaxed. The  noises coming from outside sounded especially ominous, and I was already thinking about how cold the house would be in the morning. Then I felt guilty for being at all frustrated when so many people in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have been living without power for over a week.

Anyway….the books. There were some treasures in this stack – and the lantern’s glow made them even more magical. Two of them were especially suited to my situation…

Bedtime is Canceled by Cece Meng is a totally delightful story. On the first page Maggie and her brother start a little mischief when they write a note announcing that “bedtime is canceled.”  As you might expect, the children’s parents are not amused and the note is tossed into the trash. But the note doesn’t quite make  it into the basket. It sails out a nearby window and is carried by the wind right onto the desk of a newspaper reporter. When the paper announces “the news,” the consequences are guaranteed to make readers laugh. Meng’s story and the illustrations by Aurelie Neyret are lively and fun. One thing I really loved are the references to today’s devices – a television reporter receives “an urgent text,” and lots of people use e-mail to share the good (or is it?) news!

The other book I read during my unplugged evening was The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood. This quiet book was even better with no electricity.  Christmas is over a month away, but reading Underwood’s gentle book reminded me of the many quiet moments associated with the holiday season. Each page features adorable animals enjoying a quiet pleasure – hoping for a snow day, bundling up, and even enjoying a cup of cocoa. Save this one for a snow day or an evening with just enough light to enjoy Underwood’s luminous illustrations. 

Our electricity returned about six hours later – after we were already asleep. Bedtime in our house was not canceled!

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