Conversation of the Day

Filed under:Children's Books,It's My Life,Mothering — posted by Anwyn on August 26, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

Me, hunting for the particular book the Bean wanted to read at bedtime: “Let’s see, if I were Jeremy Fisher, where would I be?”

Son: “You’d be wherever Jeremy Fisher is right now.”


Take That, Huck

Filed under:Children's Books,Cool,Language Barrier,Politics — posted by Anwyn on December 22, 2007 @ 11:09 am

“My favorite author is C.S. Lewis.” –Seven-year-old reacting to Huck’s pronouncement of Dr. Seuss as his favorite.

Rowling: Dumbledore’s Gay

Filed under:Authors,Children's Books,Church of Liberalism — posted by Anwyn on October 19, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

Because she really is a super-cool progressive, see, so she’ll make the most beloved character in a generation of literature retroactively gay and hope nobody notices that if she’d actually said so in the books, she wouldn’t have sold nearly as many.

Oh well. The fact that she didn’t say so in the books means I can just pretend it didn’t happen. If I can do it with three whole Star Wars films I can certainly do it with the after-market remarks of the richest woman in the world.

Via the headlines of the Beta Heartbreaker.

What I Learned Over Spring Break

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism — posted by Anwyn on April 5, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

Dr. Seuss apparently believed that Soviet communism differed from American capitalism no more than eating one’s bread butter-side-down differs from eating it butter-side-up.

I believe that’s what Allah would refer to as nuance.

How Big is the Moon?

Filed under:Children's Books,It's My Life,Mothering — posted by Anwyn on December 6, 2006 @ 9:26 pm

The Bean (age three, at the moment) has a book by James Thurber (!) called Many Moons. In it, the court jester finds that the princess can easily be given what she wants–the moon–because she is deceived as to its nature. Though I’m not sure the moral is sound–it might be psychologically healthier to modify our wishes to things that are within our grasp, but surely not under deception–it’s a cute book and won the Caldecott Medal for illustrations by Louis Slobodkin.

Tonight in the car, The Bean was entranced by the moon, talking about how it was following us home (it was) and how much he loves the moon (he does) and how much the moon loves him (it does). I asked him how big the moon is, thinking he would give the answer of the Princess Lenore from his book: just a little smaller than his thumbnail. Instead his answer surprised me: “It’s big enough.”

Raising Chamberlain’s Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 26, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

Today’s installment of the ongoing object lesson, Read Your Kids’ Books Before They Do, is the Little Golden Book Tawny Scrawny Lion, by Kathryn Jackson. If Chamberlain had had half the appeasement chops with Hitler that Our Hero, the rabbit, has with the lion in this story, Poland would have been begging for Hitler to cross the borders and annex it, because Germany would have been just so much sweetness and light.

Synopsis: Hungry lion terrorizes (eats) animals. Animals, desperate for ceasefire (ceasedigestion), send rabbit out for diplomatic mission (dinner) with lion. Rabbit invites lion for dinner (carrot stew, we’re told) at his home, where there will be a big bunch of other rabbits (lightbulb over lion’s head). Lion goes home with rabbit, who stops on the way for fish to put in the carrot stew. Rabbits feed lion to bursting with fishy carrot stew, then all gather ’round the cookfire to sing the cautionary tale of “Little Bunny Foo-Foo.” Big animals stand in awe of little rabbit’s diplomacy skills (continued possession of tasty innards).

What bothers me most about this book is not the analogy itself (although that in itself is pacifistic rant enough) but the deceptive nature of it. Because it uses animals, the tale finds itself in distress right at the start: lions are carnivores. Thus their “terrorism” can’t even be compared to that of humans, as to eat animals is necessary to lions’ survival and just a part of their nature. No carrot stew in the world will sustain a lion, and the book admits this–the rabbit has to put meat in the stew. Fish. Fish being, you know, other animals, which for the purposes of this book are not considered to be on an even footing with the rest of the animals, who can talk, make fire, use liberal philosophy to save themselves from digestion, etc.

So the appeasement of the lion really becomes an all-too-human tale: the big animals offer up OH, the rabbit, in hopes that the lion will leave them alone long enough for them to effect an escape, while the rabbit has to offer up fish, though the book hopes you will not notice its apples-and-oranges treatment of the fish with respect to the other animals. I wonder, in such an obvious fantasy tale, why they didn’t just leave it at the carrot stew. Isn’t it a liberal’s fondest dream that troublemakers at all levels can be satisfied with something other than their goal? If that were true of the current conflict in the Middle East, there wouldn’t be a conflict in the Middle East, because somebody would have found out long ago what would satisfy jihadists other than the deaths of Jews and other infidels and given it to them. Instead, liberals are left with offering them Jews (fish), hoping they will then overlook the rest of us infidels.

Sadly for liberals, Neville Chamberlain, and the author of this book, it just doesn’t work that way.

Raising Green Kids

Filed under:Children's Books,Church of Liberalism,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on July 24, 2006 @ 10:47 pm

I have found that when choosing children’s books, it’s wisest to read them first. Failure to do this found me reading to my son about the leftist environmental agenda before I realized it.

In a box of books my mother had picked up for her grandson, I found Milo and the Magical Stones by Marcus Pfister, author of The Rainbow Fish. I had skimmed the latter book once and remembered, basically, “Tiny sparkling fish saves the day!” so I thought we’d give the mouse and the magic rocks a try. The book started out innocuously enough with a clan of mice who made the best of bad winter weather on their little rocky island, but I knew we were in trouble when Our Hero, Milo, discovered the magical glowing rock that would bring light and warmth to the cold dark winter. My parental antennae twitched up to “red alert” when we reached a division in the book between “the happy ending” and “the sad ending.” A self-proclaimed sad ending–in a children’s book!–could only be the harbinger of some self-righteous, condescending liberal agenda.

Not wanting to cut the book off in the middle, a move my son would not have understood or appreciated, I gamely shoveled through the happy ending, in which each mouse takes only one of the glowing rocks and then laboriously decorates a plain, garden-variety rock to–this is my favorite part–“give back to the island,” from which all the rocks originally came.

Need I spell out the sad ending? Failure to “give back to the island” caused the island to literally implode, killing all the mice except Our Hero and his Wise and Ancient Advisor. (Killing all the mice–I must say it again–in a children’s book!) OH and WAA were left to mourn the stupidity and greed of their dead comrades in perfect self-righteous solemnity.

If I want my son colored green, I’ll give him his paints but not his smock. Plenty of children’s books with agendas at least have the courtesy to put the agenda on the cover.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace