Sleeping Boy

Craddock, Sonia. Sleeping Boy. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1999.

Herr and Frau Rosen are thrilled about the birth of their baby boy, Knabe Rosen, so thrilled that they throw a huge party to celebrate. Everyone is invited, that is except for Major Krieg (“They don’t like him. He makes them feel uneasy”). Friends and family wish all the best for the baby and all is joyous, until Major Krieg arrives and says, “Listen to this sleeping boy: On your sixteenth birthday you will hear the drums drumming as the army marches by. Oh yes! Rat a tat tat! Rat a tat tat! Off to war you’ll go—and you will not come home.” Fortunately, Tante Taube has not yet made her wish for the boy, and she makes it so that on his sixteenth birthday, he will instead fall asleep at the sound of the drums, and not wake up until Berlin is at peace. Even though Herr and Frau Rosen had made it so no marching bands are allowed to come down their street, this ill-fated day does arrive. Until then, Knabe Rosen has led a very protected and sheltered life, and wants very badly to join in with the marching band when he hears the music far off in the distance. Instead, he falls asleep on his way down the stairs. As everyone in the Rosen home sleeps, poverty, war, bad times, and sadness occur around them. The house actually gets buried inside the Berlin Wall (like the briars of other tales). They all awaken when the Berlin Wall crumbles and they are happy once again.

This tale would be useful to show variety in a unit with other Sleeping Beauty tales, provided the students have some previous knowledge of the historical references. However, it doesn’t actually teach anything about German history. I think adults would maybe appreciate the book more than children, assuming they have previous knowledge of both the traditional tale as well as the period in history that is being alluded to. Otherwise the power of the allegory would clearly be lost.

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