Well, I learned the hard way that you have to read press materials sometimes. In the case of the children’s book and accompanying lullaby CD by Sister Hazel’s Jett Beres, Starfish: A Bedtime Story, you have to read the press release and note from Beres on the back of the book before attempting to read the book to your kid. Unless of course you’ve followed Sister Hazel more closely than I have.
Anyway, I tried reading this book to my one-year old son Jonathan last night, and he promptly threw it on the ground, demanding a pretzel or some ice-cream instead. So my wife let me try it again this afternoon before Jonathan’s nap. I put in the lullaby CD, which is all instrumental, and began reading the book to Jonathan. He was sort of paying attention, but not enamored like he is with books such as Goodnight Moon or Five Little Monkeys. And as I was reading to him, the words didn’t seem to make sense. “I saw a starfish on the ground/He was half buried in the sand/Just so out of place…and ahhhhhhhh/He was a long, long way from home.” Nice enough, but what was the “ahhhhhhh” for? And then the words kept repeating themselves on the pages that followed. And more ahhhhhhh’s. Huh? So it’s about a dude that meets a starfish and has a nice time with said starfish. And the illustrations by Sean Kelley are really well-done. But I didn’t get it, and you can bet Jonathan surely didn’t get it.
Then a funny thing happened. I read the press release and the notes on the back from Beres, and found out that “Starfish” is a Sister Hazel song, one that Beres wrote about the loneliness of being on the road back in the mid ’90’s, but that came more into focus for him when he had two kids of his own. The words in the book are the lyrics to the song. Ahhhhhhhhhh. Now it makes sense. So I downloaded the song, and then listened again to the instrumental versions of it–a lullaby, a string arrangement and a classical guitar take. Suddenly it all came together for me, the dumbass dad.
The moral of the story is this….if you don’t know what you’re getting into, read the damn press release. If I knew the song, or knew the sentiment, I might have approached it differently. But I still think Jonathan throws the book on the ground.