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The Napping House

Page history last edited by Katie Sweers 9 years, 7 months ago




Plot Summary


Written by Audrey Wood, published in 1984, The Napping House is a delightful cumulative tale that has become a classic bedtime favorite, sending children off to bed with laughter and sweet dreams.  One rainy afternoon, a Granny is snoring on the bed in a cozy room.  A child crawls on top of her and starts dreaming.  Gradually, the pile begins to increase with other characters, such as a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, a slumbering mouse, and a wakeful flea, as each one gets their own creative way to awaken the next.  This wild sequence, that’s initiated by the flea biting the mouse, sets off a chain of events which results in a broken pile and even a broken bed. 

The genre of the story is realistic fiction because it’s based on characters that seem real such as the snoring granny and the dreaming child who come alive as the story progresses.  The story also takes place in a contemporary setting on a rainy day inside a “napping” house, which by observation seems to be located in a nice typical neighborhood.  Another reason this book is classified as a realistic fiction genre is because the story line could possibly happen in the real world as the chain of events lead to awakening the “napping” house.

After reading through this book, I came to the conclusion that it is written to have the story line build on itself.  At the beginning, the story line starts out very simple with just a granny lying on a cozy bed where everyone else in the napping house is sleeping.  But with every turn of a page, a new character or animal is added on top of the snoring granny.  Once no one or nothing else can be piled up, the story can no longer build on itself anymore and it just collapses.  This is exactly what is shown in the napping house once every character and animal is stacked on the cozy bed, which then leads to the bed breaking.



Textual Elements


     The text in The Napping House is very straight forward and simple in every aspect.  The font is very basic written in what looks like Times New Roman and the size looks like the normal 12 point.  The words in this book don’t tell a story beyond the pictures but instead, simply tell what is going on in the pictures.  Repetition of text is used throughout the entire book as a new line of written words is added with each new page to follow the sequence of lines before it.  The text is written in a straight, lined up, horizontal format which you could relate again to the building block style I described above for artistic elements.  Overall, the text is very simple reading to follow the simple plot for the book. 


Point of View  

     The point of view in this story is third person omniscient.  The story is told from a perspective that does not belong to any of the characters.  Instead the reader hears the narrator describe what is happening in the napping house.  This point of view works for the story since throughout most of the text everyone is sleeping.  It also helps the repetitive style in that it is not common for people to talk in a building manner like the one presented in the text.




     The characters in The Napping House are all flat.  These characters are not developed.  They remain quite unchanged throughout the story.  The narrator divulges no information or details about the characters themselves.  The book contains no dialogue for the reader to gain clues about the characters.  For example, when the book begins the characters slowly stack upon one another and go to sleep.  They remain sleeping until the end of the book when they are each suddenly woken by another.  This is the only interaction the characters really have among one another.  Therefore there is no information gained about characters through their interactions with other characters.  All of the common clues a reader can use to gain information about characters simply is lacking.




Artistic Elements 


     The illustrations, by Don Wood, in The Napping House are very fun, detailed, and life-like keeping the reader’s eyes busy.  Each picture features the bed in granny’s room with the current sleepers and those who join in as the story progresses.  Throughout the book, Wood beautifully uses color to change the mood of the story, the time of day, and the weather.  He starts out with his choice of very faint colors using the cool blue tones setting the perfect peaceful mood for a quiet rainy day.  It is almost as if lulls you to sleep as well.  As the story continues, hints of colors on each page begin to become more saturated or intense to show a feeling of excitement leading to the climax towards the end of the book.  The last couple pages illustrate the climax as Wood uses very vibrant yellow and orange colors to show the energy of the brilliant sunshine that emerges from a cozy, rainy day.    

            Wood’s art goes hand in hand with the repetition of text as he also uses a form of repetition in his art which helps achieve visual harmony and balance to the reader’s eyes.  He illustrates granny’s room as the main element throughout the whole book, representing it from very slight, assorted angels while also incorporating the addition of a character or animal to each page. This creates a feeling of suspension as the reader becomes attached to the book trying to figure out what might happen next.  I myself had to keep turning the pages back and forth more than once to figure out the hint of what character or animal might be added next.  I also loved how the illustrations foreshadow the predictive, building, style of the written story.  With each page, the writing style includes another line of text for an addition to the story, as the artistic style follows this sequence with the addition of a character or animals piling on top of granny’s bed.  Also if you look out the window of granny’s bedroom, rain continues to fall outside which again shows the building style within this book.      

     Every illustration in this book is a full bleed.  None of the pictures are bordered and the drawing extends in every direction, leaving the page itself.  Even the text itself is inlaid on top of the picture, usually in the sky or on the wall.  Every illustration, with the exception of the last, is a double page spread.  All the pictures take up two pages and continue across the binding of the book.  The book utilizes this type of illustration to draw the reader into the story.  Since the setting for this book is inside the napping house, the illustrations help to make the reader feel as though they have entered this house.  This is accomplished by the every space of the page being filled.  The very last page then lets the reader open the door and leave the house to go about their life.  The reader feels this way since the last page only takes up one side of the spread and shows the outside of the house.  




Analysis and Critique


     The Napping House was my favorite children’s book to read before bed because of the fun and exciting pictures Don Wood illustrates for us.  This book was awarded the Best Illustrated Children’s Book in 1984, as it is clearly shown why through the creative ways Don Wood illustrates the plot.  I feel that children can understand each part of the book through the images from the snoring granny to the wakeful flea.  His depictions of this amusing tale make the simple words on the page come to life.  The images truly convey the story of how everyone ended up in such a small bed and how each fun, creative character or animal woke up one another in the silliest of fashions.  Both Audrey and Don Wood have created an imaginative piece of literature that is fun to read over and over again, experiencing laughter from within the characters.  The Napping House is wonderful for a bedtime/naptime story, and is also a good book to read to a classroom.  The repetition allows young readers to contribute reading the story as they’re able to follow the simple sequence of events on every page.   I would recommend this book for children of all ages and it is also a great pick to share with the whole family.

     The explicit message of this book is one that describes the idea of sharing human experiences.  Each character climbs into the bed with granny on a rainy afternoon to sleep. It is often hard to sleep when you do not feel safe.  The book shows how people come together to share experiences.  Every character sees the warmth and comfort of the other characters and wants to join in that experience and they do.  


     The implicit message of the book shows the reader human connectedness.  As the characters stack up on the bed they sleep harmoniously atop one another.  However, as one is disturbed a chain soon follows waking each character.  Often this is the case in life when someone we love has a problem or is dealing with some kind of sadness in their life.  Although the issue does not directly affect us, we still have empathy for that person.  This is something every child can relate to.  However, just as a bad mood can be spread so, can a happy mood be spread.  The connectedness displayed in the book can be paralleled then to show that kindness can go a long way.  By being nice to each person we come in contact with, we begin a chain that can spread happiness further than we ever could have alone.



Educational Resources












Wood, Audrey.  The Napping House.  Orlando, Florida.  Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, 1984. 






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