My kids aren’t asleep by 8 p.m. like everyone else’s children I know, so when I heard the fanfare around this new book, The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep, that basically guarantees to put your child to sleep, I hopped on Amazon and ordered it immediately. The glowing reviews from parents had me practically running out to meet my mail man every day, anticipating its arrival. Visions of relaxing on the couch with actual sleeping children upstairs by the time Scandal comes back for its fall season filled my head.
Finally, a large, thin envelope appeared in my mailbox. I tore into it and a disappointingly thin book slid out. “It’s self-published. I get it,” I thought to myself. I opened to the first page, which contains “instructions to the reader.” The very first sentence says (in bolded letters) “Warning! Never read this book out loud close to someone driving any type of vehicle.”
Okay. That’s weird.
There’s an entire page of instructions on how to read the book, including tips like, “make sure you are not disturbed while reading,” and “it is recommended to read the story from the beginning to the end, even if the child falls asleep before you have finished reading.” I can pretty much guarantee that if my kid falls asleep I won’t finish the book, but we’ll ignore this for now.
There is some fine print at the bottom of this page:
Disclaimer: Even if this book is harmless to use, the author and the publisher takes no responsibility for the outcome.
I’m now sort of disturbed, but I make a note to pretend that I’m not when I begin reading the story to my kids later that evening, as per the instructions.
The end of the day finally comes, and I hop into bed with my kids and begin reading. My four-year-old is tired, and the book actually seems to be working on him. I’m following the other directions the book gives about the tone of your voice when you read. The book uses bold words to show you when to emphasize, and italics to show you when to read in a fairy tale voice. On the first page, if you string the emphasized words together, this is what you get:
“and could right now… sleeping, now… easily fell asleep every evening… going to sleep, now… feeling even more tired… how tired that would make him now… sleep, now (child’s name)… fall asleep… Now…close to sleeping… now.” Unfortunately there are about 400 words peppered around those essential ones, and I’m only on the first page.
By the time I get to the fourth page, I’ve read about 1,000 words and endured this photo:
which reminds me of something I would have liked in college, when I was a total pothead and into things like wizards and M.C. Escher prints (don’t ask). Also this photo:
This is someone called “Uncle Yawn” who has “powerful, magical and invisible sleeping powder that makes rabbits and children fall asleep when it is sprinkled over them.” Yikes. Do. Not. Like.
My son is asleep now, my two-year-old is yelling “stop reading!” and I get to the following paragraph. It calls for inserting your child’s name, so I’ll use my screaming daughter’s name so you can get the full effect:
“Since Heavy-Eyed Owl is wise, I will do what she tells me to, thought Roger.
Relax your feet, Frankie. Roger and you do as Heavy-Eyed Owl tells you and now you relax your feet.
Relax your legs, Frankie. Roger and you do so now.
Relax your entire upper body Frankie. Roger and you do so, now.
Relax your arms Frankie. Allow them to be heavy as stones. The Rabbit and you do so, now.
You are relaxing your head and allowing your eyelids to be heavier Frankie, just letting them relax. Roger and you are relaxing deeply. Now. You are letting your eyelids be as heavy as they are, just before you fall…”
“STTTTOOOOPPPPP!!!!” That’s not dialogue from the book. That’s my two-year-old screaming like a possessed demon. Apparently she hates being told to “relax” as much as I do.
I tried it again the following night. This time neither of them fell asleep and they started begging for Jack and the Beanstalk before I got to page three.
The bottom line is this: do you believe in hypnosis? Are you so desperate to get your kids to bed that you’ll try anything? Go ahead and buy it. But don’t expect an interesting story and be prepared for some seriously creepy illustrations.
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