About the Holiday
Make a Difference Day was instituted in 1992 on February 29 – leap day – to encourage individuals and groups to find a way to help others. The idea took off and has become one of the largest single-day celebration of service nationwide. Thousands of people across the country use this day for projects big and small that change the world for the better. To celebrate today consider how you might make a positive change. As today’s book shows, just being a caring friend can go a long way in making someone’s life better.
Bonaparte Falls Apart
Written by Margery Cuyler | Illustrated by Will Terry
Something was happening to Bonaparte. Whenever “he rode his bike or played catch or visited the doctor’s office”—basically all the time—his bones broke apart. “Sometimes his bones rolled away, and it took him forever to find them.” He wondered what would happen when school started. He was worried that everyone would make fun of him.
Bonaparte’s friend Franky Stein thought that by gluing and screwing his bones into place, Bonaparte would stick together. But when they tried it, Bonaparte found that he couldn’t move at all. Blacky Widow, Bonaparte’s spider buddy, figured she could tie his bones together with her web, but after she had spun and spun her threads around him, Bonaparte was just left hanging and tangled up.
Mummicula thought he had the perfect solution and wrapped Bonaparte round and round until he was completely wrapped up—completely. Bonaparte couldn’t see anything, so “Mummicula had to undo all his hard work.” While the summer passed, Bonaparte grew more and more worried. One day he thought about it so much “that his head fell off.”
As Franky Stein picked it up and returned it to its rightful spot, he and the others all vowed to find a way to solve the problem before school started. They tried lots of remedies: Mummicula thought a staple gun might work; Blacky Widow liked the idea of using clay, and Franky Stein got out his hammer and nails. But nothing did the trick “until…a dog ran by with a bone in his mouth.”
Mummicula suggested that someone who loved bones so much would be a perfect companion for Bonaparte. They brought the dog to Bonaparte, and Bonaparte was immediately smitten. “‘What a fetching dog!’” he exclaimed. Then Franky told him the plan: “‘You can teach him to retrieve your bones.’” Bonaparte loved this idea—and his crew. “‘You are my bone-a-fide friends!’” he said.
Bonaparte spent the last two weeks before school started teaching Mandible to fetch the bones he lost. As he waited at the bus stop that first day, Bonaparte was still a little nervous, but as his arm and the ball flew out into home-run territory, the kids cheered. At lunch, losing his teeth just made him a “jaw-dropping sensation, and in science class he made for a “rib-tickling wonder” of a skeletal exhibit. At last, Bonaparte realized that he “could hang loose without anyone making fun of him, and this made him very happy.”
Margery Cuyler’s monstrously cute story of a little skeleton who just can’t keep it together will have kids giggling along with every “clack clack” of Bonaparte’s errant bones. But Cuyler presents more profound issues as well. Readers will understand and sympathize with Bonaparte’s worrying over being different and made fun of because of his unusual plight. Through Bonaparte’s caring, tight-knit group, children will see that by supporting a friend through tough times, they can help find solutions and make a positive difference. Cuyler’s charming story is true to children’s natures and ideas and offers a “bone-anza” of puns that will delight kids.
Will Terry knows a thing or two about monsters—adorable monsters, that is. As Bonaparte’s hands drop off, legs and arms go flying, and head rolls under the bed, his expressive eyes seem to take it all in stride. He also accepts his friends’ attempts to keep him together with patience and an endearing smile. Franky Stein, Mummicula and Blacky Widow are also sweetly earnest in their attempts to help. Kids will love the hilarious illustrations of Bonaparte and Mandible at school and linger over the last two-page spread where young zombies, pirates, vampires, witches, and other students play on the jungle gym.
Bonaparte Falls Apart is a unique book about friendship and school for any time of the year, and would be a favorite of little monster lovers for home and the classroom.
Ages 3 – 7
Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017 | ISBN 978-1101937686
Discover more about Margery Cuyler and her many books for children on her website.
You’ll find a gallery of books and artwork by Will Terry on his website.
Make a Difference Day
Friendship Hot Chocolate Jar
Being a good friend is one of the best ways to make a difference, and with this gift you can show your friends how much they mean to you!
- Mason jar or other wide-mouth jar
- Large canister of hot chocolate mix
- Mini marshmallows
- Chocolate chips, milk chocolate or semi-sweet
- A scrap of material large enough to cover the lid of the jar
- String or ribbon
- Measure 1 cup hot chocolate mix and pour it into the jar
- Sprinkle in a layer of marshmallows
- Pour in another 1 cup of hot chocolate mix
- Add another layer of marshmallows
- Continue layering until you reach the top of the jar. The hot chocolate mix and marshmallows may become mixed together.
- Top with a layer of chocolate chips
- Put on the lid and tighten
- Cut a circle from the material 1-inch diameter larger around than the size of the jar lid
- Secure the material around the lid with ribbon or string or, if using a mason jar, place it between the sections of the lid.
- Make a tag for your gift with the paper
- Give your gift and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with your friend!
Picture Book Review