Quill and Quire

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Shake Awakes

by Robert Heidbreder; Marc Mongeau, illus.

Robert Heidbreder’s new book of rollicking rhymes is divided into two sections. The first, labelled “for grown-up use only,” presents kids with the dire, often smelly scenarios that can arise should they fail to rise from their beds. There’s the risk of being eaten by the sleep bugs in their eyes, or by the bed itself, which “burps itself awake” at exactly 7:35 each day and swallows whatever is lying in it. And if the prospect of being consumed isn’t enough to strike fear in young hearts, maybe the “ghastly green” toy trolls whose “feet smell strongly of manure,” or the Cabbage Scourge in the closet who threatens to sneeze a revolting concoction of “veggie goo” all over them will.

In the book’s second part, the tables are turned; these are wake-up calls aimed at parents. Turns out, Mom and Dad are less afraid of ghouls and man-eating beds than they are of domestic disaster: a remote dropped in the toilet, a TV screen accidentally cracked while being “polished” with Vaseline, or a breakfast surprise that slips to the floor.

Some of Heidbreder’s ideas, like the tin pan band and the bed as trampoline, are a bit worn, but illustrator Marc Mongeau does his best to bring even the most familiar worst-case scenarios riotously to life with his delightfully curvilinear watercolours.

Given the drastic measures described, one assumes the book’s “instructions” are not meant to be taken literally. Heidbreder’s rhymes, rather, can be approached as mini-plays with parent and child taking turns reading to each other as they act out their good natured revenge.