Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WHY DO I HAVE TO MAKE MY BED? by Wade Bradford

Bradford, Wade. Why do I Have to Make my Bed? Or, a History of Messy Rooms. Illus. Johanna van der Sterre. Berkeley: Tricycle Press, 2011. ISBN: 978-1582463278. 

“Why do I have to make my bed?” whines the modern little boy to his mother. After all, he already did the dishes and straightened up his video games. And besides, a bed is just going to get messed up again. “That reminds me of a story about your grandmother,” says the boy’s mom. The grandmother asked the same question and listed off the chores of her generation. And in answer to the grandmother as a child, HER mother says, “That reminds me of a story…” This conceit continues through the entire book, all the way back to prehistoric times.

Each generation is accompanied by illustrations of the historic chores being done – from dusting the loom to patching Father Viking’s war wounds – and the various beds being ignored – from quilts to caribou hide. The illustrations are colorful and cartoonish, with the same amusing “chores are boring” face on generations of children. The illustrations depict little details that color each era, like the metal spinning top and the old Victrola in 1911, or the patchwork quilt and ragdoll in the pioneer section.

It’s interesting to read about the chores throughout centuries – there’s even a list at the end of the book that goes into further description of ancient chores through present day. The book is overall a brief, fun, and colorful history lesson for young readers. It’s a charming concept, but the repetition of “that reminds me of a story” becomes a little tiresome, and the apparently timeless reason for making a bed (“because mom said so”) is not necessarily a convincing one.

Or maybe that just didn’t work on me. I still don’t make my bed. I mean, I’m just going to mess it up again anyway.

Jill Coste

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