Rock out, then put your little moon to bed

The Mace kids can still rock out.

The Mace kids can still rock out.

Think of that feeling when you see a band you love. You know all the words and everyone around you sings along, hot, sweaty and happy! Nothing like it.

My brother Paul and I have been following the band Guided By Voices, GBV to fans, since our early 20s. This past summer, we got to see them in Cincinnati. Now, GBV fans are a beyond-dedicated bunch. I love GBV but Paul is hardcore. He has made friends through the shows, jumped on stage, and his basement man cave is bit of a shrine. For me, one of the best Facebook posts of 2014 was from Paul’s friend Lee. They were in New York City at a GBV show. “I swear Paul Mace just got a tear in his eye,” Lee wrote as the band came on.

Tinky is awfully cute.

Tinky is awfully cute.

We went to the show in Cincinnati with several of Paul’s friends. We were all married with little kids, thrilled to be going to a rock show on a Friday night. There was singing, sweat, and dancing. Early the next morning, Max and Calvin didn’t care that their mama had been up late but it was worth it!

What does this have to do with children’s books? Paul’s birthday and Christmas gift requests usually revolve around his rabid fandom. This includes posters, shirts, and vinyl records. Last year, he asked for a children’s book written by band member and artist Tobin Sprout. (Paul has two kids.) I ordered a copy for my boys as well. Sprout illustrated and wrote, Tinky Put His Little Moon to Bed.

This rock star’s book is sweet. I love the story’s premise and illustrations. Tinky, complete with Sippy cup and teddy, tries to put the uncooperative moon to bed. The moon and bedtime are such essential parts of childhood; I think that’s why kids relate to it.

Calvin says Tinky's hands look like race cars. The boys has transportation on the brain.

Calvin says Tinky’s hands look like race cars. The boy has transportation on the brain.

Tinky was an immediate hit with my boys. Here’s how they weighed in when I asked why they like it. Max said, “I like it when Tinky tries to give the moon some water.” Calvin’s assessment, “I like how his little hands look like race cars in the moonlight.”

The ending is funny. Tinky finally puts his little moon to bed as a slice of moonlight shines on his diaper peeking through his pajamas.

Where to find the book and other information
You can buy Tinky Puts His Little Moon To Bed from Sprout’s website. Hey kids – he signs it! If you want to find out more about GBV, check out their website or your local record store. Ours is Shake It Records.

Batman serves barbeque out of a truck

I’ve been craving art projects since the boys arrived. When they were about 20 months old, I loaded them up in their wagon, wheeled them down to CVS and bought crayons and paper. We got home, set up shop on the front porch, and they chewed on the crayons.

Mark Todd's Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Mark Todd’s Bubba Q truck in Food Trucks!

Now they like art and crafts but not always when I suggest/demand/beg to do it. You know when you daydream about something but the reality is different? That’s parenting. In my fantasy life, it was making pancakes on the weekends, cuddling, reading books, and making art. These things do happen but in between a lot of crying, whining, gross things having to do with the bathroom, and fights. And I’m just talking about myself.

You can imagine my delight when Food Trucks! by Mark Todd inspired an art project. My boys got it at the library, finding it an awesome combination of transportation, food, and signs.

We talked about the food trucks we visited during our Michigan vacation. (Petoskey/Walloon Lake/Paradise) Then we discussed how Dada loved barbeque. This evolved into a lovely Saturday morning, “let’s make a craft in our PJs” event. Using a superhero shoebox, we made a barbeque truck. Calvin was in charge of the signs – open, order, cash only, pick up – Max got out the superheroes for workers. Check it out – Batman is working it.

Batman gets to work.

Batman gets to work.

Each page of the book focuses on a different truck and includes trivia about food. The crazy facts appeal to my boys. They like being amazed by the size of things, for example, “the biggest falafel in the world was over 155 pounds.”

Of course they fought over the ownership of the truck later. And there was a skirmish among the workers. Superheroes and Lego people can’t work together. I guess it’s a different union.


This customer is getting impatient.

This customer is getting impatient.

Where to find the book and other info
We got our copy at the Clifton Branch of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Cincinnati bookseller Joseph-Beth sells it. Powell’s City of Books sells it.  Mark Todd sells it and other cool books on his website. Try Cincinnati bookseller Blue Manatee Children’s books and decafe.

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