Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Child Lit Review

I'm a mom that reads to her kids.  A lot.  And yeah- I brag about it.  We are readers over here on Fieldstream Lane.  Now, being the avid readers we are, I've become a little picky about what I'll read to the boys.  Because, face the facts.  Some kids books are just dumb.  (The Christmas Helpers, Scamp Saves the House, the entire Biscuit Goes Somewhere and Does Something Pointless series.)  I never tell the boys I won't read a book they choose- but- gosh- sometimes I'm really struggling.  They are just futile.  I especially hate when I have to make animal sounds that are printed instead of left to the imagination.
Example:  While reading a book about farm animals I feel free to make the noises of baby lambs and waddling ducks.  It adds color and a personality profile to the book.  But while reading let's say a Biscuit book the noises the puppies make are printed.  As in:  Woof!  Woof!  and Arf!  *cringe*  It's so dumbed down.  Blech.

But!  Worse than any.  Other.  Kids.  Book.  Are The Curious George books.  My boys love Curious George.   I can't stand that little rascal.  First- the man in the yellow hat (probably gay (certainly not the reason I hate the books.)).  When is he going to figure out not to leave a terribly misbehaved monkey alone. I mean, EV-ER-EE-WHERE they GO!  He's all, "Chill here, George. I'm gonna go get hot chocolate!"  or "Don't get into trouble.  I'm gonna check on our order."  or "Wait here for me.  I'm gonna make an unimportant phone call."  As a parent, he should know, or at least catch on (!) that you just can't leave tots alone!  Especially when their name is Curious George.  I mean if the monkey's name was Well Behaved George or Never Causes Trouble George then I could see his reasoning.  Or.  OR!  If the man in the yellow hat had a more pressing (or believable) engaging and he was leaving George for a few seconds.  I could handle the books if it was "Wait in the car, George.  I'm going to pump the gas. I'll be able to see you through the windows."  But... no.  Every time the man leaves and every time George makes terrible terrible decisions.

Which brings me to my second point.

Curious George is beyond curious.  Curious would be little George wondering if he could pour the milk into his cereal himself.  He tries and Whoops!  spills a little.  Good try, George.  Or.. Curious could be little George wondering what happens when he brushes the dog's hair in the wrong direction. To me, being curious is tender and loving and basically harmless.  But ol' Curious George... He's far from harmless.  He's a real rabble-rouser.  He's a loose cannon.  Curious George becomes "curious" and climbs into a running dump truck and pulls all the levers.  Releasing literal tons of dirt into the middle of a pond.  Would you call that curious behavior?  Eh.... no.  In another book, Curious George becomes curious and steals a hot air balloon.  In another he lets all the animals out of the animal shelter.  He tangles all the balloons in the Macy's Day Parade.  And in each story someone is incredibly (and justifiably) furious with him.  Curious George runs away until someone else fixes the problem and then he re-appears and somehow becomes the hero and no one is ever mad. Ever!  Well, no one except me.

What enrages me is... What's the lesson being taught?  It appears to be, "Go ahead, kids.  Ruin everyone's hard work.  Do whatever the heck you want.  You can always run away, not apologize, and never get in trouble."

On the up side I'm launching my own children book series.  It's called Curious Patty.  It's about a sweet little monkey who is always curious.  Curious Patty often gets into trouble.  One day she doesn't listen to her friend, The Lady in the Purple Boots and Curious Patty gets put into time out for 4 minutes because she is 4 years old.  Curious Patty throws a fit.  She kicks and screams and tries running away.  But The Lady in the Purple Boots holds Patty in her timeout chair until she has calmed down.  Then sets the timer.  Curious Patty doesn't like her punishment but learns her lesson!

In another story, Curious Patty wonders about scissors.  She gets so curious and full of wonderment that she cuts up her friend's favorite scarf.  Curious Patty gets grounded!  And she's not allowed to play with scissors anymore!

In another one, Curious Patty won't eat her dinner.  She just wants dessert.  Curious Patty goes to bed hungry.
More titles that have come to me:
Curious Patty Hits Her Friend.  And has to apologize and make amends.
Curious Patty Uses Crayons Inappropriately.  She has to scrub the walls clean and can't use crayons for the rest of the day... heck... rest of the week!

I intend to write children's literature that means something.  That drives a point home.  And the point is CONSEQUENCES! 
So-long Curious George.  Have fun in Juvey!