Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime

   Debut author, Myra Wolfe, and Spanish illustrator, Maria Monescillo, shivered me timbers an cajoled me with their pirate patter and seawater brushings into shelling out a few doubloons for our very own copy of Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime.  After swiping it off the shelf and clutching it to my heart, I felt like I had just defeated a gang of lily-livered hornswagglers and beat them to the booty.

The Story 

   From reading the first few pages, I was convinced I must head home immediately to sweep for hidden cameras that have most definitely captured our last few toilsome years.
Charlotte Jane the Hearty came howling into the world with the sunrise.
"Arr.  She's finer than a ship full of jewels," said her mother, smiling.
"Arr," agreed her father.
"Also," said her mother, "she's got oomph."
"Formidable oomph," said her father.
   After 48 hours of labor, in which all our loved ones made many a fruitless trip to the hospital, my dauntless ob/gyn took the reins and finally brought my first, Little Girl, into our arms.  Two days in, I was having trouble nursing.  I had read every book and took every class but it just wasn't working.  I was baffled.  The lactation specialist at the hospital came to my rescue and, after observing my technique and a few forced and failed attempts to encourage Little Girl later, she recoiled.  "Oh honey," she commiserated, "you're doing everything right.  She just doesn't want to.  You need to buy that book, The Strong-Willed Child, and read it...today!"  That was only the beginning.  And two years later when Baby Girl was born, we thought we had persevered through our only tough child and were therefore deserving of a mild one.  For six months, Baby Girl had us fooled.  Now, we have two daredevil, headstrong daughters with hearts of gold and barrels of gumption. 
   In Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime, Charlotte "relished swashbuckling sessions, treasure hunts, and Fantastic Feats of Daring.  'I like to get all the juice out of my days!' she would say." This is what bedtime looks like every night in our house, only there are two little creatures finer than a ship of jewels:
And bedtime was not juicy.
"Sleep is your friend, little doubloon," said her father.
"No one can be hearty without it," said her mother.
Charlotte Jane did not agree.
[If only bedtime could walk the plank!]
   What happens next to little doubloon is the lesson my husband and I always threaten to teach our girls, only we aren't hearty enough to let it all play out- Charlotte Jane stays up all night.  Each and every night she pushes back bedtime further and further, until the sun awakens before she dozes off.

"Victory!" she whispered into the morning.
   The family sets off on a treacherous hunt to find her "oomph (that) seemed to have gone to sleep without her."
   Thereafter, empty-handed and oomph-less, Charlotte gives her featherbed one last "fearsome glare," and scoffs, "Bedtime was not juicy.  Sleep was for landlubbers," before she surrenders to her weakness and finally falls asleep.  Lastly, we are left with rip-roaring dreams as a mighty reward!

The Storytellers

   Myra Wolfe's first book is an instant classic, and the ninth Blueberry Book, in our home!  As my love for things like The Goonies movie and the Pirates of the Caribbean Disney ride never wanes, my daughters have fell under the same spell with their adoration for Peter Pan and Jake and the Never Land Pirates
"One-Eyed Willy!  The most famous pirate in his time."

"Yo Ho!  Let's Go!  Climb aboard, Me Hearties, and be a pirate true!"
   Wolfe's marooner wordage, such as, "Traitor.  A good plate of cackle fruit will jostle you up," and, "Aye, sweet pomegranate, tell us," drenched our hearts in an instant.  I'm not skilled at speaking in accents, but when I read this book to my daughters for the first time, I had developed my own Irish/Spanish/swashbuckling dialect that stunned even myself by the end of the first page.  Myra's writing transforms your vernacular.  Thanks to that, her omission of the darker side of pirates, and in her choosing a girl for the lead character, my girls ask for this book all the time!
   In the following interview with Jonathan H. Liu from the WIRED geekdad team, she shares how Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime arose:  
GeekDad: Is this your first book? Congratulations!

Myra Wolfe: Thank you! Yes, this is my first book.

GD: What was the inspiration for this book? Do you have a daughter?

MW: I have a daughter and two sons. Actually I first wrote the book about nine years ago. My daughter was really little and my son was a baby, and neither of them wanted to sleep, so …

GD: No!

MW: Shocking, right? I think I was just taken with the idea that everybody has something really special about them — especially if you’re a parent, you can think of something really incredibly special about your own children — and that’s sort of my idea of what “oomph” is. So, that just got me started one night when I couldn’t sleep.

GD: You couldn’t sleep. So you wrote a book!

MW: I didn’t wanna go to bed either! So I stayed up to write.

GD: Ok, about those pirates. Do you just love pirates, or is it just how this book happened to come together?

MW: I do like pirates. Portland has this awesome Portland Pirate Festival that we try to go to. It’s definitely very fun. But the first draft of the story really only had a tiny bit of pirate stuff: pirate swashbuckling was only one of the many things that this character liked to do. When I sent it to my current editor, she asked me if I would be able to make it more pirate-y. She thought it would be more fun if it was more pirate-y.

   Myra's juicy text coupled with Maria Monescillo's tender and succulent illustrations make you taste the adventure and feel the affection.  For her U.S. debut, Maria's captivating watercolors include everything from an irresistible plank in Charlotte's bedroom to a menacing eye-patch on her teddy bear.  We love creeping behind the rapturous cover and engrossing ourselves in her daring days and rip-roaring nights.

The Review

   Well me buckos, gangway!  Charlotte Jane Battles Bedtime earned 5 out of 5 blueberries and you can purchase this delightful bedtime (or any time) story here or at your local bookstore because it's still new (ages 4-8)!  Don't forget this beauty on Talk Like A Pirate Day- September 19th every year!  Fair winds to ye lads and lasss!  Aye Aye!  Back to landlubbin for now.

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