I always like to be on the lookout for imaginative new picture books. One day, I read a review of a book that sounded perfect for Story Warren readers. So, I went and got it. The end.
A simple enough story, right? All of the sentences in the book I found, Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s One Day, The End, are less than eight words long, start with “One day,” and end with “the end.” It’s what happens in between, in the humorous illustrations by Fred Koehler, that makes all the difference. The subtitle of this book is “Short, Very Short, Shorter-than-Ever Stories,” and that’s really what they are; one or two-sentence stories of the type that a shy five- or six-year-old might tell, giving the crucial bits but leaving the rest up to the imagination. This is a book that is best read aloud, with plenty of time for readers and listeners to look at each spread and speculate about what’s going on in the middle of the story. Each tale is told by the storyteller, a young girl with pigtails, who often involves a secondary character in her antics, like a dog, cat, Mom, or older brother. Sample story: “One day, I lost my dog. I found him! The end.” What we don’t get from just the text is the story of how the dog escaped in the first place, and the great adventure that our storyteller went on to track down her beloved pet. There is fence-climbing involved, digging of holes, inspection of footprints, and official photography. And that’s just the bits of the story that the illustrator chose to show us!
I love the potential for imagination and creativity that One Day, The End offers to the reader. (See Kelly’s October post about The Mysteries of Harris Burdick for another great book like this.) We can not only use the images as starting points for describing the story but we can also make up our own “middles,” narrating how to get from beginning to end as creatively as we want to. (Along with being a fun read-aloud book, One Day, The End would make a great tool for a creative writing exercise.) I often find myself speeding through short books like this if I’m reading them by myself, but this one made me want to slow down and take my time picturing my own version of the stories. I hope you’ll pick it up and have fun making up your own “middles.” Like the front jacket flap of this book reminds us, “There’s no limit to where a story can take you!”