50 Below Zero is a children’s book that takes a potentially scary subject—a dad sleepwalking and a kid who has to rescue him—and makes it entertaining.
boy, Jason, is asleep in the middle of the night when he hears a sound. He opens the door to the kitchen and finds his dad, who walks in his sleep, sleeping on the refrigerator. He hustles him back to bed. Jason continues to find his dad in other unlikely places—the bath tub, the car in the garage, you just never know where dad is going to end up!
Each time Jason finds his dad, he cries, “This house is going crazy!” The dad goes back to sleep and so does Jason. However, one night when Jason finds his dad has gone out into 50 degrees below zero weather in just his pajamas, he heads out to save him. He finds his father leaning against a tree and yells, “Papa! Wake up!” When dad doesn’t respond to Jason’s cries to wake up, Jason hauls his dad inside by the big toe into the bathtub and runs warm water over him. Dad wakes up and goes back to bed.
Finally, Jason has an idea! He ties a rope around his father’s big toe and attaches the other end to his father’s bed. Finally, a solution to the sleepwalking. Until…mom wakes up to find Jason sleeping on the refrigerator! Oh, no, what turn of events is this?
The delight of this story is that it allows the child to be the hero. Jason knows what to do and uses all his ingenuity to help his dad. Munsch does a good job of taking what could be a serious subject and turning it into a triumphant adventure. Children can help their parents, in all sorts of ways. This story will reinforce that idea and empower children to be the helpers when they can.
Readers who live in cold climates will empathetically listen to this story and remember the times they were cold. Readers in warmer climates will find it a light and engaging story full of wonderful illustrations.