A Great Bedtime Story for both Fish and Kids

Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann

The synopsis from Macmillan: “In Clara and Asha — as in Eric Rohmann’s Caldecott Medal-winning My Friend Rabbit–a simple storyline becomes the basis for fun and sophistication. Clara’s friend Asha is an enormous fish, which means that hide-and-seek, Halloween, snow days, and afternoons in the park offer surprising opportunities for adventure. With oil paintings that playfully suggest stories within stories and convey great emotional range, this is a captivating book about the special world of a child’s imagination–where a giant fish might come to visit, and the things you do and the things you feel with an imaginary friend are intensely real.”

This one’s been out since 2005 and I’ve used it for story time quite a bit over the years. I’m the only one here at the library who does so though as, similar to Extra Yarn, it doesn’t present itself as a story time book right off the bat. It’s more of an enjoy on your own type story and I think it really shines as that, given that one of the best parts of the story is a wordless sequence where Clara and Asha soar through the night sky over their tiny town.

That said, I think this book is great as a closing to story time. After you’ve done some longer, more rousing stories, kids are usually ready to move on to something else but you can sometimes rope them in with one more short one. This book is a quick read that meets that need and it’s easy to entice kids because the artwork is so incredible. I usually get real quiet when I show kids the cover and act like I’m getting sleepy:  it’s bedtime and we’re ready for the one to send us off dreaming. Keeping in that theme I turn the pages slowly and let the story and the pictures do the work. Most kids will stare at the book, enthralled by Rohmann’s art, and some will get into telling me what they think is going on, which is when I know that it’s really working.

Today I paired this one with perennial classics Bear Snores On and The Napping House (a whole bedtime theme!) and added a dose of bedtime music. You can pick your own favorite bedtime song or ask the kids what their favorite is (most likely it’ll be something everyone knows), either way it’s a great way to quietly finish up after reading Clara and Asha. More creative types might show up in pajamas for that added flare or even plan ahead and encourage the kids to do so. Me, I just rely on my incredible storytellin’ skills and hope everyone has a good time.

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