Friday, April 06, 2012

Disturbing Children's Books

Cracked.com has a piece this week on six children's books that teach "horrible lessons." (I myself have delved into this territory before. Here's my take on "The Princess and the Pea" and "The Frog Prince.)

I was excited to see the first book they mention is "Love You Forever," a mainstay in our household.


My mother gave this book to Elliot, and he frequently requests it for bedtime reading. It's a bizarre tale about a mother who sneaks into her son's room each night and rocks him to sleep. When he becomes an adult and moves away, she STILL creeps into his room and rocks him to sleep. WTF?


I actually think the main problem with this book is the illustration style. It's done in a very earnest manner. To pull off a book like this, you'd need something a little quirkier.

Or maybe it's just the Canadian otherness that's offputting: The author lives in Ontario, and that's where he got his start as a writer.

(However, according to Wikipedia, he's an American-born former cocaine addict who is bipolar and once studied to become a Jesuit priest. That probably explains a lot.)

We don't have the other books that Cracked includes in its list, so I can't really evaluate those. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like this one: "Because Your Daddy Loves You."

It depicts a dad who goes to extreme lengths to please his daughter.

An excerpt:
"When you ask for a piggyback ride to bed, your daddy could say, "Come on, old lazybones, get up those stairs!" But he doesn't. He swings you onto his back and marches up and up the stairs and drops you gently on your bed and kisses you goodnight."

Um, that kid needs to climb those stairs her damn self. (By the way, I call Elliot "lazybones" on a daily basis.)

In a funny coincidence, there's another list making the rounds this week: "Terrifying French Children's Books."

That list cites a number of seemingly inappropriate tales. This one (below) is about "a huge lady who sucks children out of their upper story windows with her umbrella then spirits them away under her skirts."


Another is about a duck dying and then dancing with Death.


French people have different attitudes about what to show children, I guess.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the person who gave Elliot "Love You Forever" is French herself (my mom).

You don't want kids to get too complacent.