So you’ve decided you want to tell a story to your child every night before they go to bed, but you’ve read every book in your house over and over, and the only thing you can think of on your own is, “Once upon a time . . .” But as someone who created a series of books out of my simple bedtime stories, I can tell you that becoming a master storyteller isn’t so complicated. Here are my top tips for telling bedtime stories your child will adore!
Cater to your child’s interests. Think about which books your kid loves to read. Are they about horses, sports, magic, pirates? Draw your subject from there, or even combine some of them! You could tell a story about a magic pirate and his horse companion competing to become World Champions in a horse race. The more creative you get with your child’s interests, the more interesting your story will be to them.
Keep it short. Kids don’t have very long attention spans, and by bedtime they should already be pretty wiped out. Just keep the storyline simple—you have a character, there is a problem, the problem gets bigger, and then the character resolves the problem. You should be able to keep it under ten minutes. If you have more to tell, continue on the next night.
Make your child the star! You’re always telling your child that they can be anything they want to be, right? Well here’s your chance to tell them a story about becoming president, discovering cures for diseases, getting a record deal, or whatever it is their biggest dreams are. Even if you put them in stories that are unrealistic, like how I put my son John in the Night Buddies stories, hearing about themselves as protagonists in the stories you tell will boost their confidence and help them realize that you truly believe in them to do and be anything they want.
Tell the story together. I’ve said before that my son John is the one who came up with our red, talking crocodile friend Crosley, and I think it truly goes to show that the best stories are ones that you and your child come up with together. Ask them to create a character, a storyline, or a setting. Tell the story back and forth to each other a sentence at a time. They will feel proud for having created something fun, and it will bond you two closer together.
What are some bedtime stories you’ve told your child? Any tips for the new storytellers out there? Let me know in the comments below!
The big moment is here. We are finally announcing the Night Buddies Go Sky High official release date! Drum roll please . . .
The third installment of the Night Buddies series is going to be available for you all to read on March 16!
We over here at the Night Buddies Headquarters could not be more excited to share this next adventure with you, and we can’t wait for you to find out all that John and Crosley have been up to! To get you excited about this next book, we’re sharing with you some of the early reviews it has received so far.
“Lively and wildly imaginative. A wacky adventure. Crosley, the likable crocodile and his buddy John go on a zany nighttime romp through the stratosphere.” Randi Mrvos, Editor of Kid’s Imagination Train
“The Stratosphere’s the limit in this third Night Buddies adventure, as John Degraffenreidt and Crosley the red crocodile must go up up up to check out a mysterious roving dot in the sky that just might have it in for them. Their racing blimp may defy the laws of physics but it obeys the prime rule of storytelling: unstoppable action equals lots of fun. Sands Hetherington again combines expressive language, whimsical inventions, abundant delicious (and disgusting) food, loyal pals and wicked foes, in Night Buddies Go Sky High.” Lynne Barrett, author of Magpies and co-editor of Birth: A Literary Companion
“Where Night Buddies Go Sky High excels is in the pacing of the story–lots of lingering time to laugh, but equal momentum time to make the adventure exciting for children. Hetherington is so adept at writing for children that his books become instant classics–and that means that after lights out, parents will tiptoe in and grab some of this confection for themselves! Highly recommended.” Grady Harp, Reviewer for Literary Aficionado and Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer
“This science fiction book will probably help young readers’ minds drift away for awhile into a fantasy of what can happen in a blimp in the sky […] My review = 5 out of 5 stars.” Jill H., blogger for Book Review Travels
So remember, on March 16, be sure to pick up a copy of Night Buddies Go Sky High! You will be able to find it as a print book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at all fine bookstores near you. It will also be conveniently available as an ebook on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, iBookstore, and elsewhere!
1. Find a partner to adventure with. If you asked either John or Crosley to go on a Program alone, they’d call you nuts. It’s important to have someone to go on your adventures with, not to mention loads more fun! Team up with your brother or sister, your best friend, or you can even create someone in your imagination to adventure with. As long as you have someone to share your experience with, your adventure will be all the more worthwhile.
2. Build your adventure craft. The Night Buddies wouldn’t get very far on their Programs without their Far-Out Flying Machine, and likewise, you’ll need to find something to go on your adventures in! Look around your house for an old cardboard box, some tape, scissors (with your mom or dad’s approval) and markers, glitter, or stickers to decorate it with. Make your adventure craft look however you want it to look . . . just make sure it’s uniquely yours!
3. Decide on a goal. Each Night Buddies Program has a specific goal in mind, and it usually has to do with stopping the evil Iguana Gang. Decide what you want to accomplish on your adventure—whether it’s stopping evil, discovering something new to you, or solving a problem that has been bothering you—and then go after it. Every good adventure has an end goal in mind, but make sure you remember to have fun along the way!
4. Always, always use your imagination. It is possible for you to do anything, go anywhere, and meet anyone, as long as you are open to using your imagination. If you allow yourself to see your living room turn into outer-space, your adventure craft flying in the sky, and yourself as the hero bringing all evil to justice, you can go on an adventure every day. Whenever you read about all that John and Crosley do on their Programs, remember that you can be with them every step of the way, as long as you are using your imagination just right.
An’ have I ever got somethin’ for YOU! Namely, the genuine warranted recipe
for Crosley’s Super Fantastical Cheese Wulgers. (Wulgers bein’ a crocodile
word for somethin’ that’s been wulged, okay?) They’re nothin’ next t’
pineapple cheesecakes in my personal estimation, but it appears a whole lot
o’ people think they’re BETTER! That’s crazy, but there’s no accountin’ for
taste, I guess. I will admit they’re awful good.
So here’s what ya start out with:
One pound o’ sharp cheddar cheese
Half a pound o’ butter
Two an’ a quarter cups o’ white flour
A heapin’ tablespoon o’ dill seeds
A not-heapin’ teaspoon o’ salt
A quarter teaspoon o’ red pepper
Right. So let the cheese an’ butter warm up t’ room temperature. Dump the
flour in a big bowl an’ sprinkle all o’ that little stuff on top. Chop up
the cheese into about 15 pieces an’ dump this in, along with the butter.
Then, what ya do, ya wulge it all up into a dough ball with your greasy ol’
hands. Cut the ball up into three or four pieces an’ roll each piece out
into a rod about one an’ a half inches thick. Wrap each rod up in aluminum
foil an’ stick in the freezer about thirty minutes t’ get the dough hard
enough t’ slice with a big knife. Take the foil off an’ slice into cookies
about five t’ the inch. Preheat oven t’ 300 degrees (F), put wulgers on
cookie sheets an’ bake 45 minutes. It’s good t’ switch ends o’ the sheets
halfway through. Take out o’ oven an’ scrape wulgers off the sheets pretty
quick. Then let them suckers sit an’ suck air for one or two days. Ya’ll
be mighty pleased!
This holiday season we sat down with the characters of the Night Buddies series and figured out what they were thankful for this year. Here’s what they said:
Crosley: I’m thankful that me an’ John get to go out on more and more Programs together an’ that we can make each other laugh. An’ I’m thankful for pineapple cheesecakes of course! By the way, have ya got any with you?
John: I’m thankful that I had trouble sleeping at night, because that’s what got me started as a Night Buddy! And I’m thankful for all the friends I made because of it, even if they do all make fun of my curly hair an’ big, round brown eyes.
Big Foot Mae: I’m thankful that I’m the biggest woman you ever seen, because it sure makes me unique. And I’m thankful for Crosley keeping me in business. That crocodile sure does love my pineapple cheesecakes!
Crenwinkle: I’m sure thankful (Wuk!) for my brother, and for John making sure that he stays focused on the Programs I give ‘em! I’m glad that my whatchamacallits get some use, too, because I put a lot of effort (Wuk!) into making those.
Fast Fanny Farnsworth: I’m thankful for my All-Night Emporium staying in business, and for the Night Buddies taking my far-out flying machines for a spin during their second Program. And I’m thankful that I’ve somehow managed not to kill Crosley yet! (He sure does drive me crazy sometimes!)
Sounds like the Night Buddies have a lot to be thankful for! What are you thankful for this holiday season? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
Crosley picked out John to be his Night Buddy, for starters. There must have been a lot of reasons, but the only one Crosley mentions is middle names. Crosley doesn’t have one, and neither does John, so they have this in common. Crosley thinks it makes you a little sharper, too. And hey, we know that John is really sharp, and Crosley is definitely no slouch, so maybe there’s something in it.
The two characters couldn’t help but hit it off with each other. John doesn’t want to go to bed, so Crosley rescues him and takes him out on adventures. Crosley for his part gets a genial and very capable partner for his “Programs.” Sharing these adventures, the good and the bad parts, bonds the two all the more.
John and Crosley are very different, obviously, and before I go any further, I have to confess something. After I finished The Pineapple Cheesecake Scare, I realized I had used a device made famous by Cervantes and Mark Twain. (When you steal, steal from the best.) I don’t know whether Mark Twain had Sancho Panza and the Don in mind when he wrote Tom Sawyer (I promise I wasn’t thinking of any of them when writing my story), but Tom and Huck are very similar to Cervantes’ two protagonists. There Tom is, the impractical romantic (Don Quixote), and there’s Huck, the no-nonsense, pragmatic sidekick that Tom needs in order to stay grounded (Sancho). Two pairs of opposites who rely on and complement each other.
Exactly like John and Crosley. John is the sensible, down-to-earth partner, and Crosley is goofy, full of wild ideas, and ready to fly off to Mars at a moment’s notice for a few pineapple cheesecakes. And just like those other characters, they appreciate and honor each other’s differences. They are a team that’s better than the sum of its parts. This, and their mutual adventures (and maybe a little insomnia) are the essence of their friendship.
I’ve heard that the Black Bottom started in Atlanta, in New Orleans, and in Jacksonville, Florida, in the first decade of the 20th century. It became well known by semi-rural blacks across the south then, and by the 1920s, it found its way up to Harlem where it was featured at the Apollo Theater in 1926 and 1927. From there it became a national sensation! Its rhythm was based on the Charleston, another popular dance at the time, but people loved the Black Bottom so much that it actually surpassed the Charleston in popularity.
Crosley didn’t know about any of this when the allergy first hit him. Somehow the moves had passed into his system, and now they take him over completely whenever he gets wet! He can’t understand why the dance was so popular. (It takes a lot of energy out of a crocodile!) He personally can’t wait until he gets dry and his body stops having a mind of its own.
You can see people doing the Black Bottom on Google if you want to, but we’ve also got a link to a video on YouTube here:
So far there are no such recordings of Crosley, and that’s just fine with him.
There are certain characteristics that make a person stand out to be a qualified Night Buddy. Take a look at this list and see if you have what it takes!
1.) Patience—Every Night Buddy must have the patience to endure Crosley’s insatiable appetite for Pineapple Cheesecakes, to wait for his Black Bottom dance fits to come to an end, and to make it through a night without sleep. Every challenge that confronts the Night Buddies in their Programs are best overcome one step at a time; you can’t sneak out of the house before you’ve turned on your I-ain’t-here doodad!
2.) Kindness—Night Buddies will meet a whole world of new people and animals on their first Program, and they need to treat each one of them kindly and respectfully in order to complete their adventure. If you aren’t nice to Fast Fanny Farnsworth, you can’t expect her to rent you a far-out flying machine!
3.) Bravery—Sometimes the tasks that Night Buddies take on seem a little scary at first. After all, iguanas are not creatures that you really want to be around! But Night Buddies know that no matter how scary their Program might seem at first, they can step up and face what lies ahead with bravery. Someone has to keep the iguanas in their place!
4.) Imagination—Some people think that being a Night Buddy is something that only happens in books, but true Night Buddies know that imagination is what makes stories come to life. You can use your patience, kindness, and bravery when you’re at school or playing at home with your siblings, whether you have Crosley by your side or not, because when you use your imagination you can be on a Program anytime!