A Must-Have Story Collection: The Munschworks Grand Treasury

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A grand treasury!


What a lovely word for a children's book!

Was there ever a book with a more suitable title?

I sort of remember reading one short story by Robert Munsch when I was a kid, but back then I wasn't aware that his opus was so large, so off-beat and so crazily well-tailored to children.

Fast forward 25 years and I discovered this amazing collection of 15 picture books - compiled into one (I have to repeat it!) grand treasury - with almost all of the best stories penned by Munsch.

Usually, when I think back to a book purchase that I made, often I remember my personal struggles that I had at the time.

OK, money is a factor - of course. We all know it does not grow on trees.

But that is not the point.

Admittedly, it always boiled down to a single question: should I buy it or not?

But the real question is always ... will my kids get something new, something they would love out of this book.

Wait, no.

In fact, I ask myself - will this book change their lives?

A parent should always seek out books that will turn the lives of their kids upside down - metaphorically.

I need books that will break down walls that my kids didn't even know existed.

So I struggle.

I go back and forth.

I count the pros and cons.

And I admit - this book is one of those purchases that I struggled with.

I was unsure whether the price tag was too steep for a mere collection of stories that might end up being a hit and miss affair.

Is Munsch a game changer, or is it just a book that will amuse my twins?

I wasn't completely sure.

Yet, I also felt that there was something very worthwhile - something that made me badly want the Munschworks Grand Treasury.

His books are non-traditional, off-tilt creations that could connect with young readers like many others do not.

Later I found out that what makes them so unique is that Munsch's stories are full of these completely independent, self-minded kids who go through wacky adventures.

These are stories that seem to be written by kids for kids.

Robert Munsch has the amazing ability to come up with a visually strong narrative that leads the reader into unexpected territory.

The stories lead the children into territories that are uncharted by grown-ups.

In one word - these 15 stories are unforgettable.

OK, those were my thoughts.

Adults are kids in clothes for grown-ups

We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up.
Christopher Morley

But let me share with you what is inside this beautiful treasury.

Every story is amazingly illustrated with large, colorful illustrations that are tailor-made for these wacky offerings.

The first tale, The Paper Bag Princess, is such an empowering short story for young girls.

But from the very outset, Munsch tricks the reader into thinking this is an ordinary fairy tale.

Elizabeth, "a very beautiful princess", who lived in a castle wants to marry a prince named Ronald. After a dragon kidnaps Ronald and destroys her castle, she goes after the dragon and saves Ronald.

Shallow Ronald rejects Elizabeth because her clothes and hair are a mess, ordering her to come back when dresses like a princess.

Can there be a girl who will not chuckle when she reads Elizabeth's response:

"Ronald, your clothes are really pretty and your hair is very neat. You look like a real prince, but you are a bum".

And Elizabeth rejects Ronald!


By the way, it was Munsch's wife who originally suggested that this story should have a plot in which the princess saves the prince, instead of the other way round!

The second story in this treasury - The Fire Station - is fabulous as it also shifts the balance of power towards little girls and towards the out-of-box thinking that children have.

Little Sheila is walking past a fire station with her friend Michael when she simply decides to seize the moment and do what every kid in the world secretly wishes ... to enter the Fire Station.

Right there, right then.

Michael drags his feet, explaining that they should ask his mother, maybe also his father, maybe... But Sheila accepts no shilly-shallying and she simply tugs him into the Fire Station where their adventures begin...

Munsch has a knack for pinpointing the objects of desire that children crave for and then he delivers these wishes to them on a golden plate.

The alarm rings, the trucks speed out and ... Sheila and Michael join in on the fun.

In the end, Sheila and Michael end up driving a fire truck on their own, returning to their homes only to have their parents not recognize them because they are so dirty.

After "living in the bathtub" for days (until they cleaned up sufficiently), Michael and Sheila go for another walk...

Michael warns Sheila that he will ask the police to put her in jail if she tries to get him to the fire station again, but this just gives Sheila a new dotty idea.

"Jail!," she yells ... What a great idea ... all while pulling Michael into the police station!

Interestingly, the two kids in the story were based on a real Michael and Sheila from a daycare center that Robert Munsch used to frequent.

The two kids were real troublemakers and Michael was known for an incident when in the middle of one night he got out of his bed and washed all the windows in his house. However, he used bug spray instead of window cleaner. The windows in the house got absolutely sticky and the mother woke up thinking she was dying.

Try reading the third story in this treasury, I Have to Go, without a smirk on your face. It's a story about every parent and every child.

In fact, the inspiration for the story was the author's own son Andrew who used to pee the bed several times in a night.

Little Andrew is about to take a trip with his parents to see his grandma and grandpa and before the family enters the car, Little Andrew is asked whether he needs to go to pee.

"No, no, no, no, no," explains Little Andrew, adding for good measure that he also decided that he never wants to pee again in his life...

The family trip starts and after a long stretch of the voyage lasting just one minute, Little Andrew starts hollering that he NEEDS TO GO TO PEE.

The family finally reaches their destination and Little Andrew wants to go out to frolick in the snow.

Before he goes out in a snowsuit, everybody asks Little Andrew whether he needs to pee.

"No, no, no, no, no!", said Little Andrew, who turns around, goes out into the snow and after launching one snowball starts yelling "I HAVE TO GO TO PEE"...

You can sense where this story is going, but fortunately for Little Andrew it is a happy end for his bed and his parents!

David's Father, the fourth story in this collection, is another wacky contribution that will make your kids split their sides as one of their childhood fantasies plays out right in front of their eyes!

The main character is a little girl named Julie that becomes friends with a regular sort of boy named David, whom she meets on the way home from school.

David is completely normal, apart from the fact that some things in his house seem to be fit for a giant, including a massive table that has on top of it a spoon as large as a shovel, a fork as large as a pitchfork and a flagpole-sized knife.

A worried Julie asks David who sits at that enormous table and David calmly answers, "That's where my father sits."

David's father was a real giant, enormous but kind.

So the father decides to take Julie and David for a walk around town and all hell breaks loose.

Cars stop in their tracks, Julie and David finally get served in a shop that does not serve kids ... as the frightened owner gives away three boxes of ice cream, 11 bags of potato chips and 19 life savers, all for free - after David's father tells him in a booming voice:

"These kids are my friends".

The next story - Thomas' Snowsuit - in this amazingly illustrated 386-page book is about a small boy named Thomas who almost throws up when he sees the ugly brown snowsuit that his mother bought him.

The next morning when Thomas was supposed to leave for school, his mom asks him to put the new brown snowsuit on.

"NNNNNNNO!", he responded.

After an enormous fight in the living room, a very unhappy Thomas was in his snowsuit.

The scene is played out again at school when Thomas's teacher looked at him and asked him to put on the snowsuit to go outside.

"NNNNNNNO!", he answered.

So, after a big fight was done, the teacher ended up wearing Thomas's snowsuit and Thomas was wearing the teacher's dress.

The principal walks into the scene and gave Thomas a firm PRINCIPAL look and said "Thomas, put on your snowsuit."

"NNNNNNNO!", Thomas said.

After a fight or two more, the principal decides to tender in his resignation and moves to Arizona...

Pigs, the sixth short story in this collection, is a another hilarious Munsch creation that will amuse even the youngest of your listeners.

The tale is about a small girl Megan whose father asked her to feed the pigs before leaving for school.

Megan's dad explicitly warns his daughter not to leave the gate open, because pigs are smarter than she thinks.

Megan promises not to open the gate, but she goes to the pig pen and then looks at the dumb-looking animals, incredulous that these stupid-seeming creatures would ever leave the pen.

"They wouldn't even go out of the door if the house was on fire!," Megan exclaims and opens the gate, while the pigs just look at her.

After shouting at them - "Hey, You Dumb Pigs!" - mayhem ensues and the pigs run over Megan and she finds them destroying the insides of her house, with one pig drinking her dad's coffee, another eating his daily paper and a third one peeing in his shoe.

She chases them out only to find them vandalizing her principal's office at school, then they moved on to the school bus where one piggy took over the steering wheel - until they drove themselves back to the pig pen.

And Megan learns a valuable lesson that pigs are much smarter than people give them credit for!

The next story in this collection is a firm favorite with my twins who adore the whimsical and loud noises that Mortimer, the hero of the story constantly makes.

One day Mortimer's mom took him to his bedroom and warned him that he must remain quiet.

Mortimer agrees to remain silent, but as soon as his mom leaves the floor, the singing begins.

"Clang, clang, rattle-bing-bang
Gonna make my noise all day.
Clang, clang, rattle-bing-bang,
Gonna make my noise all day."

Then the boy's dad marches up the stairs, peeks into the room and shouts at Mortimer, warning him about the need to stay quiet.

Mortimer once agrees to keep his mouth shut, but as soon as the father walks down the stairs ... the singing resumes.

Then it is time for Mortimer's seventeen siblings to march up the staircase to Mortimer's bedroom and to shout at him to keep quiet.

Mortimer agrees... but the same scenario plays out.

Even two police officers climb up the stairs and warn Mortimer to keep silent, but Mortimer just ignores the warnings as soon as the two officers go down the stairs.

A big fight ensues downstairs ... and poor old Mortimer falls asleep waiting for the next person to come to his bedroom with a warning to remain quiet!

Another all-time favorite from this amazing story collection is Purple, Green and Yellow and I dare you to find a single kid in the world that will not be mesmerized by the craziness of this tale.

Young Brigid one day begs her mom for some coloring markers, as most of her friends are drawing amazing pictures with their own coloring markers.

But, wary of the dangers lurking behind this seemingly innocuous request, Brigid's mom says "No!", explaining that kids use these markers to draw on walls, on floors, everywhere!

Smart as any other kid on this planet (when it comes to standing up for themselves), Brigid convinces her mom to buy her some washable (500 of them!) coloring markers and the little girl made some amazing pictures.

A week later, after her mom admitted that Brigid was well-behaved with the markers, the little girl convinces her mom to buy her another batch of 500 markers that smell.

And again Brigid drew "lemons that smelled like lemons, roses that smelled like roses, oranges that smelled like oranges and cow plops that smelled like cow plops".

After another seven days went by, Brigid manages to convince her mom to make the next step. All the kids are now crazy for for super-indelible-never-come-off-till-your-dead-and-maybe-even-later coloring markers.

Brigid's mom gives in to this request and mayhem ensues. Brigid starts coloring herself with the markers and even the doctor needs to be drafted in to solve Brigid's little escapade....

Murmel, Murmel, Murmel, illustrated by Michael Martchenko,

One day Robin is playing in the sandpit in her back yard and she discovered a gaping hole right in the middle of it.

The only thing that she noticed was a strange sound coming out of the hole. It was as if someone said, "Murmel, murmel, murmel".

Extending her arm down, deep into the pit, Robin grabbed hold of something and pulled out a baby.

Unsure of what to do with a baby, Robin decides to find someone suitable to take care of it, but the first lady she meets simply rejects the offer.

Then an old lady with seventeen cats also flatly rejects to take over the baby, as does a woman in fancy clothes that has seventeen secretaries.

Robin meets a man who asks whether the baby can wash his car or whether he can sell it on for loads of cash. When Robin says no, he just asks what is the point of the baby.

Finally, a truck driver comes along who is captivated by the baby's garble.

The driver tells Robin he already has seventeen trucks, but what he doesn't have ... is a baby!

One mary zany addition in this treasury that makes my twins split their sides every time we read it is - the supermarket-adventure-from-hell story Something Good.

This is a story about a visit to the supermarket by a father and his three kids, one of whom is the main character, Tyya.

The kids are frustrated with their dad for ignoring all the good food and opting instead for things like eggs, bread, milk, cheese and spinach.

The list of "good food" includes, of course, tasty treats like ice cream, cookies, chocolate bars and ginger ale.

So Tyya fills in a shopping cart with 100 boxes of ice cream and shocks her father who tells her to get rid of all that sugary garbage that will rot her teeth.

Then Tyya piles three hundred chocolate bars into the cart, informing her dad that it is "Good Food!"

But her dad makes the girl put it all back and orders Tyya to stay put without moving.

Tyya acquiesces and soon a store clerk mistakes Tyya for a doll and slaps a $29.95 price tag on her nose. Finally, her dad finds Tyya and takes her to the cash register who tries to charge the dad $29.95.

After a brief fight, Tyya asks her dad - doesn't he think she is worth that much?

And ... he pays up!

OK, here is one story that will teach your youngsters about the value of setting, instead of following trends.

Stephanie's Ponytail is a story about a young girl that becomes a trendsetter.

It is a tale about and how important it is to stay true to oneself, especially when the rest of the world is more content to play the role of sheep following a shepherd.

Stephanie one day asks her mom for a ponytail because none of the kids in her class have one.

When she arrives at the school, the rest of the children tell her it is ugly, ugly, very ugly. But Stephanie does not care, as she loves it.

The problem emerges tomorrow when Stephanie arrives at school because all the other girls had ponytails at the back of their heads.

Stephanie calls them out as mere copycats and decides to change her hairstyle for a ponytail that comes out of the side, surprising all the other kids at school who decry the strange hairdo as ugly, ugly and very ugly.

But the next day all the girls copy Stephanie's new style and this behavior pattern is repeated with every new hairstyle until Stephanie announces she will shave off her hair that afternoon.

The next day everyone appears in school with a shaved head, including the teacher, the boys and the girls.

The last person to arrive was Stephanie and she had a nice little ponytail coming out of the back of her head.

As you read on through this treasury, you will be amazed at the ease that Robert Munsch selects incredible topics for his stories.

Take Angela's Airplane, for example. It is a story about another little girl that is involved in an incredible adventure.

Angela's dad takes her to the airport, but upon arrival ... "he" gets lost. Five-year-old Angela decides to look for him and enters a plane, but no one is there.

As she had never been on a plane before, Angela decides to sit in the cockpit to explore.

Although she knows that the buttons are not to be pushed, Angela decides to push just one.... and then one more ... and one more ... until the plane is up in the air.

Then the realization hits Angela - she does not know how to get down.

To make matters worse, the radio turns on and a voice from ground control calls on her to bring back the plane.

Angela informs them that she is just five years old and the little girl manages to get the flying machine down to the ground.

After promising her dad she would never again fly another plane, Angela grows up and ... becomes a ... pilot!

Another wacky off-beat story comes in the form of Jonathan Cleaned Up - Then He Heard a Sound.

When Jonathan's mother leaves the apartment to buy a can of noodles, she leaves young Jonathan alone - pleading with her son not to make a mess.

Her son suddenly hears a noise like a train screeching to a stop and the wall slid open to reveal a subway train.

Scores of people exit the train into Jonathan's apartment and leave through the front door.

The apartment is in a total mess and even a man is sleeping on the sofa when his mom arrives to see the apartment ransacked.

Of course, the mom does not believe a word that Jonathan says and orders the boy to clean the mess up.

Like in many of Munsch's stories, the key event is played out again and again - but every time in a more incredible fashion.

Soon after the mom leaves for a new can of noodles and an even larger crowd of subway passengers makes their way out through Jonathan's apartment - leaving the apartment in a much worse state than before.

Finally, after the boy gets sick of the shenanigans he tells the conductor to cut it out as his home is not a subway station.

The conductor responded by saying if Jonathan did not like it, he could take it up with City Hall.

And Jonathan did!

Munsch wrote this story entirely by chance after his publishers heard him tell it at The World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto to a tiny crowd of ... half-a-dozen kids.

Show and Tell is a story that originated at a a school in Newfoundland, Canada, when Robert Munsch asked the kids at the school to help come up with an amusing children's story.

Not surprisingly, the convoluted story that the kids collectively made up was a tale about a baby that was found at a school.

The kids that found it then enlisted the help of the school's principal who was so confused that he began hollering at the baby. 

This was followed up by the appearance of a cop who went as far as arresting the baby, but before the baby was taken away to jail a doctor appeared keen on sticking the baby full of needles. 

Then a fireman came with a hose and sprayed the baby with water, while a nurse threw the baby through the window.Finally, a mom appeared and took the baby home. 

"I was interested in this story. I knew I couldn’t make it into a book the way it was, but the kids really seemed to enjoy having the baby get into trouble," said Munsch.

Munsch succeeded. His version is about a boy named Benjamin who decided to take something "really neat" to school for show and tell. 

What neater than a ... baby! After popping his baby sister into his backpack, Benjamin leaves for school and all hell breaks loose after his baby sister starts crying during class.

The fifteenth and final story in this collection is A Promise is a Promise and it is the only story that feels like it would work better as a standalone book (than as a part of this treasury).

My opinion is that it does not fit in with this collection of comical tales about misbehaving children primarily because it has a different mood to it compared to all the other stories in the treasury.

The tone of this story breaks with the atmosphere of the treasury and children might be surprised that this is a more somber tale - possibly a bit too scary for some younger listeners.

The illustrations are beautiful, the colors are entrancing and the ending is a happy one, but my kids have regularly chosen all other stories from the treasury - as they seem to identify Munsch with zany comical stories.

Well, to each his own.

The true strength of these Munsch stories for me is in their collective power over a child's imagination.

No wonder they are so attractive to kids as many of them were inspired by children or their own tales that inspired Munsch to write them down.

The fifteen stories in this treasury are like portals into a world of whimsy.

This is a 386-page extravaganza that blows away the dullness of the boring world generated by adults and brings kids back to their wonderful natural state of wonder and delight.

Parents are often concerned how to foster creativity and stimulate new ideas in their kids, as today's world usually tries to make them conform to a stricter reality.

Well, my advice to you is ... do a Munsch!

Look no further than a child for great inspiration.

The Munschworks Grand Treasury is a perfect tool for helping the unusual and wacky to enter your child's mind while having a good laugh at the same time!

Together these stories can help us to conduct a wonderful foray into the world of impossible and improbable.

That is exactly what children adore.

The Munschworks Grand Treasury can be found in your favorite US book shop:


The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

or from around the world:

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon DE

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