She climbs from her window
As the Shadows grow long
And runs into the wood
Where no children dare roam

wee sister strange illustration

“Wee Sister Strange” by Holly Grant, illus. K.G. Campbell, Random/Schwartz & Wade, ISBN 978-0-553-50879-6

I like your story already. Out in the woods, on your own, you, the protagonist, Wee Sister Strange, have flouted a cardinal rule for kids: Don’t venture into the dark, the forest prime evil, where wildness presides. But you do—in bare feet and clad only in a flimsy shift dress. I follow your every step, entranced by your courage and the eccentric foraging in the dark, my kind of adventure.

However, you trip the wires of the fantastic way beyond anything I can claim. In the first lines of your tale (a poem), I learn you live alone (really), in a broken down house (yikes), and don’t have parents (shades of Grimm). That explains, of course, the ease with which you launch your nighttime roam—no grown ups to set the limits. No wonder you intrigue, my embedded Peter Pan spirit sucked into the allure of living outside the bounds, especially in the blue-black of night. So what’s the existential dilemma that drives you out? This is a storybook, so there must be an arc. Otherwise your evening trip, beautifully conjured as it is, will not satisfy reader expectations, mine included.

Your pivot point arrives:

“She spies the bright twinkle/Of a snug little house/With one window aglow.”

You find your way to the window and peep over the sill and into the room. What do do you see?
A mother reading Wee Sister Strange to her little girl. Yep, your story inside the story.

“She’s found IT at last: A WEE BEDTIME STORY!”

Well, shut my mouth, all that clambering about in the deep dark woods, so that you, Wee Sis, can find us reading about you—or should we say so we glimpse fiction about fiction, a story in infinite regress. I like it, a neat windup, and one I didn’t expect. Perfect for this age of bending and stretching storytelling rules.

wee sister strange illustration

And how do you end your tale? You listen and succumb.

“She snuggles beneath/ Quilts of moonlight and leaves.
Her eyes shutter shut….”

Rest up, fearless and determined seeker of bedtime solace. Soon enough we will be ready to relive your story again from beginning to end.