Sunday, May 20, 2012

Four Messed Up Books for Kids

You may recall I worked at a book store for a while. While there, I got to check out a lot of children books. Some I fell in love with, some not so much. There are a lot of bad books out there, but there is a special category in my mind: books that are really successful and people seem to love but that I find totally messed up. On my hit list of weirdo books:

Coming in at number four: The Poky Little Puppy by Jeanette Sebring Lowery.Five puppies sneak out and run around all day. Four of them get caught and get sent to bed without dessert, the fifth one is slower and sneaks in later. He eats all the desserts. Then one day, the four get caught but fill in the hole they had dug to get out. So they get the dessert and the slow one gets caught and doesn't get dessert. What is the point of this story exactly? Why doesn't the mother realize there's a puppy missing the first few days? I just don't get it.

Coming in at number three: The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. The young bunny wants to (understandably) run away from his mother, but no matter what, she will find him, so in the end, he just gives up. My understanding: basically, the mother emasculates him, and he gives up on his dreams and creativity. Good job, overbearing mother, I hope you are proud of yourself!

The number two spot goes to Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree. Seriously, what's the message of this book? To me it shows a boy who grows up and is portrayed as selfish and greedy, when truly, it's normal to develop interests other than swinging from tree branches when you become an adult. On the other hand, you have this ridiculously selfless tree, that gives everything away in desperate hope that the boy will come back to him. Is it a symbol of parents? Well I sure hope I don't turn out to be a "giving tree" parent, and that I have a life of my own and don't sit around waiting for my children to come back. In my view, that tree can be summed up in one word: pathetic.

Speaking of pathetic and messed up... here comes number one: Love You Forever. by Robert Munsch. What's up with this creepy mother who crawls into her grown-up son's house and bedroom to rock him at night. That's just plain f'ed up! She needs to get a life, and the son needs therapy. Besides, the illustrations are hideous. 

There are plenty of great books that tell stories of parents' love for their children without being creepy . Guess How Much I Love You is one of my absolute favorites. It's OK to read books that tell kids parents love them, but maybe we can help cut the cord a bit instead of trying to guilt them from the very beginning.

Do you have differing opinions on these books? Am I reading them wrong? Do you know other children's books you think are messed up? 


  1. I love runaway bunny and the giving tree! a tribute to unconditional love in my eyes.

    1. And that's why they're best sellers :-)