August 20, 2006

A Slobbery Tale of a Book Sale

Pregnancy has alerted me to an egregious hole in my private library. I have an entire bookcase of picture books, early readers and chapter books. BUT, I have yet to venture into the slobbery world of board books.

I decided to take immediate action to fill this void.
Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale, here I came and went!

Tongue and cheek I may be at present, but I must admit my self-imposed assignment was much more difficult than I supposed it would be.

1. It's pretty sad when serious self-denial means scolding yourself every few minutes for looking longingly in the general direction of the poetry, fiction, history, drama, art, picture books, anything else but sticky board-book tables.

2. Board books are inane. I love children's lit. Absolutely love it. I write children's books. But after three hours of wading through board books, I can safely say that 99.99% of all board books are inane. There are rare exceptions. Eric Carle is one. Sandra Boynton is not.

Here's what I turned down with mild disgust:

  • Movie spin-offs (Abu goes to school, Perdita takes a walk, Simba makes a friend, etc.)

  • Cutsie tootsie ties her shoe and loves her mommy, too--and other such sentimental drivel

  • Anything that read like my childhood horror: "Stomp Stomp Clump! Stomp Stomp Clump! / Buy some shoes that make you jump! / Walk tiptoe from door to door / Take a peek in the new shoe store!" (and I did see this book there)

  • Half-toy mutant books (anything with stickers, puzzle pieces, buttons, musical interludes, gimmicks)

  • Bad art

  • Books that were quite obviously a money-making venture and nothing more

  • Princess _____________________ and the magic ____________. The first blank should contain a role model like "Minnie Mouse"or "Barbie" and the second should contain a useful magic item such as "lipstick" or "red high heels".

Here's what I turned down in anger:

  • One hundred and one bowdlerizations of Beatrix Potter
    • Simplified text was ok, as long as it was tasteful--which was rare. I read one adaptation of Jemima Puddleduck that actually promoted the poor duck's cannibalistic foolishness!

    • Sabotaging her ART?? Peter Rabbit in Primary Colors? Peter in Pastel?

  • Disneyfied aberrations of Pooh. Our dear A.A.Milne chose a very capable illustrator (E.H. Shepard). There need be no other.

  • Deconstructed fairy tales. Namely those in which Cinderella is portrayed as a poor, miserable, moping soul until the moment she becomes a princess. Whatever happened to the Cinderella who was so beautiful because she was happy as a SERVANT?

  • Feminized classics. The Little Engine that Could is now a girl, complete with eyelashes and a whole slew of female engine friends.

  • Any other classics which were mooshed, squished, or otherwise transmogrified into the sappy sweet or politically correct.

After three hours (no exaggeration) of sorting through board books, I came away with a whopping 11 books (which took me 1 hour to de-goober and disinfect.)

For those of you who have actually read this far and are curious, here's what I took home:

  • 2 Winnie the Pooh books with original illustrations and mostly original text--A.A. Milne really was a genious author.

  • 1 Babar book written by Laurent de Brunhoff specifically for this age group. (Translation: no editing done here! Woo-hoo!)

  • 3 Beatrix Potter books with original illustrations--done by a group of people who understand that while you can't force a 9 month old to listen to the entire Peter Rabbit story, you can introduce him/her to the characters and settings.

  • 1 Photo board book--the only one I have ever seen that avoids the overly sentimental, exhibits a semi-pleasing use of the English language, and does not in any way promote an abundance of expensive toys and gadgets

  • 1 very early Eric Carle, brilliant as always.

  • 1 Honey Rabbit--a story from my childhood with illustrations that succeed at being both cute and artistic and text that succeeds in telling a coherent, endearing-but-not-too-cutesy story.

  • 1 Alphabet book. Actually, it's just the letter W, and it's itsy bitsy. At least our kids will be able to say the important words like "wizard," "wink" and "whisper."

  • 1 Cheerios play book--I know this is dangerously close to my commercial money-making ban and my toy book ban. But having seen my sisters play with Cheerios for hours on end, I consider this a $1.00 well spent.

Posted by stephanie at August 20, 2006 09:21 PM | TrackBack