One Day, The End

odte-coverOne Day, The End. Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories, by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (author) and Fred Koehler (illustrator). Boyds Mills, 2015.

 

 

 

 

Dr. V’s take:

This book makes my heart feel like this:

dancing-heart

I am the head of the cheer-tatorship that supports short stories for little kids. When we think of “short stories,” I feel like we often imagine mildly depressing approximations of Great Literature, brief snapshots of fictional lives designed to teach us the extent to and various manners in which life can be meaningless. I don’t know if we actually imagine that, or who I even mean by “we,” but that’s how I feel. And, assuming that how I feel is inarguable fact, which I always do, it might then seem like the short story isn’t a medium really meant for little kids, whom we prefer to think of as un-jaded (what is the deal with “we” and all of our biases and anxieties, amirite?).

Plus, aren’t all stories for kids pretty much short stories? It’s not like these guys need a change of pace from For Whom the Bell Tolls or whatever.

Yet the short story form—-and the kid-version offered in Dotlich’s book—-is about more than some objective scale of word counts. The “short” part of the short story only matters because of what it allows the writer to do. Sometimes, it lends a super-concentrated effect to the story’s impact—-you get immediately smacked in the face with the feels, without the slow buildup. Other times, the power of the story is the sparseness of detail, where you as a reader have a greater responsibility to bring your own imagination to the experience.

In the case of One Day, The End, each of the stories have the same narrator and protagonist, giving them enough continuity that, though each “story” runs about 4 to 10 words, the abrupt shifts aren’t difficult for little ones to keep up with. Much of the plot of each story is contained in the illustrations, which is great for developing multiple kinds of literacy—-to grasp what’s going on, your kid will have to pay attention to things like facial expressions, and be able to compare and contrast multiple images on the same page in order to make sense of how the stories are moving forward. me-bath-final3

And besides all of that mind-enriching learning garbage, the stories themselves are completely charming. The narrator-protagonist is a busy little girl recording a series of (very) brief memoirs, chronicling such major events as making a craft, sulking about being told to do chores, and eating ice cream off the ground. My favorite story I shall quote in full:

One day, I wanted to be a spy. I was.

Get it, girl.

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