March 21st, 2012


Children’s books piss me off.

We have a baby book called “Time for Christmas”, starring Duck and Goose. It has rather charming paintings, each depicting a wonderful, fun activity–building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, skating on the frozen pond, sledding, etc–

–and the text for every page is “It is NOT time for sledding/skating/building snow forts”, until finally you get to the last page and it’s TIME FOR CHRISTMAS.

What kind of stupid book tells children not to play? Because that’s what this does, as far as I’m concerned. And no, I do not read it the way it’s written, I read it so after all the wonderful playing and fun, *then* it’s time for Christmas, because ARGH HOW STUPID

There’s even a Dr Seuss-approved sort of thing (not by Seuss; Seuss never ever falls into these traps) called “Ten Apples Up On Top”, in which rather than working cooperatively, up until the very end there is a nasty “Neener-neener, I’m better than you!” air to the three animals who are trying to balance more and more apples on their heads. Seriously, what the hell. It says in the copyright information that that one’s been adapted from an earlier version of the same text, and I really want to know if the 1968 or whatever version was less unpleasant.

And don’t even get me *started* on the Sandra Boynton books, which are probably the worst offenders. There’s “One, Two, Three”, which makes mockery of the person who comes in last in a running race, and which shows a family car trip where everybody starts screaming at each other and is miserable. Right. Because those are really good ideas to present to baby minds. After all, we want to indoctrinate them good and early that this is not only how it is, but how it has to be. Or “But Not the Hippopotomus”, which is about a variety of animals having fun and leaving the hippo out, until they all come back and say “Well come on then!” And she goes with them, all happy: “But YES the hippopotomus!”

Which would be great, except the last page is a miserable, sad armadillo standing all alone and the text says “But not the armadillo.”

What. The. Hell. What is that? A promise that don’t worry, there’s always someone sadder than you are? A guarantee that down the road there’s always going to be someone left out? Because YEAH GOOD PLAN, TEACH THAT TO BABIES.

There are obviously many examples to the other side of this, but the ones that stick are the negative ones. They make me so sad and angry. They’re templates for HI I HAVE ISSUES LET ME SHARE THEM WITH YOU, and I think they’re horrible, horrible things to read to babies.

And before you say “Write some of your own!”, I have. I am. But anybody reading this blog should know by now it’s not that easy. Writing them is one thing. Getting published is another.

(x-posted from the essential kit)