Sleeping Bobby

Osborne, Mary Pope and Will Osborne. Sleeping Bobby. New York : Atheneum, 2005.

Click here to read a brief autobiography of Mary Pope Osborne.

This is a fun book! It draws mostly on the Grimms version (as described in the Authors’ Note). I think it will appeal to kids not only because of the popularity of the authors, but also because of the darling pictures. There is a great deal of humor in this book, for example, when the twelfth Wise Woman says, “On his eighteenth birthday he will not die, but fall into a deep sleep that will last for a hundred years,” there is a pause before the king asks, “Is that the best you can do?” I found it interesting that the authors chose the eighteenth birthday for the date of the spell to take effect. On the other hand I can see how it makes sense in that girls have a special party for their 15th or 16th birthday in many cultures while boys do not; eighteen seems to mark the beginning of manhood for boys while womanhood begins earlier for girls. While there is some ambiguity in other versions about whether or not the wicked fairy/wise woman and the old woman spinning in the tower are the same person, there is no doubt that they are one and the same here. To add to the humor, the wicked lady says, “Good night, Bobby,” when the prince pricks his finger (I know my students would laugh at this scene). To take away the goriness, this version has the princesses who come to wake Bob “stopped by the sharp prickly thorns” (they do not actually try to make their way to the castle and die in the process in the way other tales have the princes do). The book also allows for a fun way to practice comparing and contrasting (the old tale with this version). I’m looking forward to incorporating this book into my teaching!

Click here to learn more about the illustrator.

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