Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Wrong Side of the Bed (Lisa M. Bakos)

Author:  Lisa M. Bakos

Illustrator:  Anna Raff

Target Ages:  3-8

First Lines:  “One morning, Lucy woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Her hair was tangled, her pajamas were rumpled, and she could only find one bunny slipper.  Apparently, it was going to be a one bunny slipper sort of day.”

Publisher Summary: “When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, there’s just no getting around it:  the porcupine under the covers will want to snuggle (aww); penguins will make bubbles in your bath (eww); and a crocodile will probably need to borrow your toothbrush (yuck).  It just going to be that sort of day (no thanks).  Unless you decide that it isn’t.”


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Oscar Wilde

We all have had those moments…when life does not seem to be going our way. I determined long ago to never say, “I am having a bad day.” Instead, I say, “I am having a bad moment.”  Acknowledging frustration is healthy, but dwelling on it is not.  Why let those moments define your whole day?  I cannot think of one “bad” day I have ever had (outside of a few with truly life-changing moments like a death). Bad moments, sure. Bad days, never.  A bad day is a choice.  A picture book is an ideal springboard for a teachable moment on this topic.

In the tradition of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, The Wrong Side of the Bed cleverly presents the bad day scenario in a humorous and profound way through the eyes of a child.  However, this book has a more whimsical approach with adorable animals, silly situations, and soft illustrations. 

Throughout the day, Lucy deals with different occurrences that are out of her control.  Each event builds on the next in the refrain, eventually cumulating in:  

it had been a  
feathers everywhere,
no toothbrush,
smelly bubbles,
eat your broccoli,
late for ballet,
miss the bus, sticky stain,
mismatched socks, very prickly,
one bunny slipper sort of day.

Whether reading together at home or at school, children can join in by reciting the refrain with you.  The refrain can also be used to test reading comprehension by asking what happened in each situation and allowing the children to fill in the details. 

When Lucy wakes up the next morning, it seems it may be another “one bunny slipper sort of day.”  Everything changes when “Lucy decided to put on…galoshes.”  Lucy choses to change her outlook despite the day starting out the same as the one before. It is a perfect opportunity to discuss how our perspective—not our circumstances—determines our day. This lesson is vital to build resilience and emotional intelligence. 

One life-changing technique is to teach gratitude through the frustrating and trying moments of the day.  For instance, Lucy spills syrup all over herself during breakfast.  She could be thankful she had a delicious meal to eat in the morning and a friend to help her clean it up. It may seem simple and even trite to say “be grateful.”  However, I have learned that by listing the things I am thankful for on paper, in my mind, or in prayer, my life has been transformed. This practice is simple but powerful.  Children are capable of starting this practice at a young age. Adults who model it will surely have the biggest impact.  (A life-changing book on this subject is Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts.)

Anna Raff’s ink wash drawings are appealing. Whether it is penguins dancing in the tub or a riotous breakfast, the illustrations are full of energy. Though Lucy is often dismayed, there are plenty of smiling faces on the pages to balance the negative emotions.

The Wrong Side of the Bed is a must-have in every library and in every home with small children.  It can be a gentle reminder that “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it” (Lou Holtz).

Activities and Extension Ideas for Lesson Plans:
  • Journal:  Begin a gratitude journal.  Younger children can draw pictures or have an adult transcribe for them.  Older ones can write down what they are thankful for daily or periodically.
  • Character Education:  Discuss character qualities that help you have a good day—despite circumstances—and how to apply them in times of need.
  • Quotes:  Pick some inspirational quotes or Bible verses.  Hang them around the class or house.  Refer to them often.  Keep the focus on gratitude and positive choices.   Make sure children know that attitude is a choice—always. 
  • Literature Connections:  Read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Compare and contrast the 2 stories.
  • Literary Interpretation:  What does it mean to have a one bunny slipper sort of day?  A galoshes day? Why do you think she chose galoshes?  How does your interpretation compare with the final page?
  • Sequencing:  On cards, write out the events outlined in the refrain.  Mix them up.  Have the children recall the correct order.  For younger children, add pictures (or have them illustrate them).  In a classroom, stick magnets on the back so the activity can be done on the white board. 
  • Choral Reading:  Children can practice “reading along” the refrain as a group.

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