One Dark and Dreadful Night is a delightful picture book that tells the trials of Maestro Von Haughty as he tries to put on a play of three different fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Hansel and Gretel. The plays will be performed by the Wayward Orphans theater… if one little orphan girl will cooperate. Lily, the lead in the play, doesn’t like Von Haughty’s attempts for the tales to be dark, grim, scary, and dreadful. Lily adds fairy princess, giant bunnies, butterflies, and humor to the dark tales and overtakes the plays.
Lily’s comments about everything going on in the play are hilarious. She adds humor and snark that prevents any young child from getting scared while encouraging children to use their imagination. In Little Red Rose, as Van Haughty calls Little Red Riding Hood, Lily wonders how she got the name and thinks it should be changed because her name is Lily. The brambles and briars loom on the page, but Lily isn’t scared. She thinks someone went just a little overboard with the decorations. Lily showcases that capacity and necessity of a child’s imagination. Von Haughty is not at all pleased with Lily’s attempts to change his production, but he is helpless to limit her imagination and her desire to make the tales her own. Her humor also reveals that almost any scary situation can be less scary with the right amount of humor.
For programming for libraries and classrooms, this book could be included in a program on fairy tales for preschoolers and younger elementary students. Even better, it would be perfect for fractured fairy tales. It would also be included in a program featuring humorous books and be used to encourage students to think of how they might change a fairy tale or any other story. It would also be great for any students interested in theater or in a program about theaters and plays.
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Cecil, Randy. One Dark and Dreadful Night. New York: Henry Holt, 2004. Print.