Allison's Book Bag

A Bed for Fred by Lori Zoss

Posted on: May 14, 2014

Poor Fred! His bed is gone and no one seems to know where it is. In her first picture book, A Bed for Fred, Lori Zoss weaves an adorable story of a basset hound determined to find his bed. Despite the clumsiness of some of the rhymes and the overabundance of text, A Bed for Fred is a sweet and endearing story.

One of my favorite picture books from childhood is Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. In it, a baby bird hatches from its egg, only to find itself alone. Similarly, in A Bed for Fred, our young hero returns from a morning of eating breakfast and playing with his bear to find his bed gone. Even worse, his dad is gone. In both tales, the main characters set out an adventurous journey to find that which is lost. Along the way, they each encounter others who unable to help. In Are You My Mother? no one whom the young bird meets is able to claim the role of being its mother. Similarly, in A Bed for Fred, none of the mouse, frog, cricket, or owl have any idea where his bed or even his dad have gone. In this, her first picture book, Zoss has made the smart decision of using a classic structure which, despite its frequent use, rarely fails to engage and satisfy. We all root for the heroes to return home, feel growing concern at how far they must wander, as well as feel strong comfort when they find what they have long sought. After all, it’s our hope that we too can say that about our own journeys.

You might have guessed by now that I feel an affection for A Bed for Fred. Yet it isn’t without flaws, both in plot and format. With regards to plot, the time which it takes for Fred to play, eat, and return to his room to change feels awfully quick. I found myself rereading the first few pages to understand how Fred’s bed AND his dad could have so quickly disappeared. This little nitpicking aside, the rest of the plot pretty much works. I especially liked the cricket who thinks she might have found Fred’s bed and the owl who faces the tough task of encouraging Fred to return home without his bed, because by this point it’s getting dark and Fred has been out far too late. Also, the ending is perfect.

As for format, a comparison to the design of Are You My Mother? will undoubtedly make the problem clear. In Are You My Mother?, the text is at least twice the size of A Bed for Fred and so has a friendlier feel. There is also a lot of less text per page–about ten to twenty words compared to forty or fifty, which makes Are You My Mother? an easier read than A Bed for Fred. There’s also a third difference, in that the first is written as a straightforward narrative, whereas A Bed for Fred relies on rhymes. I don’t know that I have a preference, except that rhyme is incredibly difficult to sustain without becoming awkward or sounding forced. A few times as I read her story aloud, I found myself stumbling over Zoss’s lines. For the most part, though, I felt impressed with how natural her story felt.

comparison

A Bed for Fred has parallels of course to the real world. All young children will make the huge step from cribs to toddler beds and from toddler beds to “big boy” or “big girl” beds. Fred’s story is bound to encourage them that such a transition is not only okay but actually a fun part of growing up.

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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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