When my firstborn turned one we’d been given a copy of “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein, as a birthday present from someone I thought was a friend. If you’ve read that book, and enjoyed it, you can go now. If you’ve read that book and realized immediately that is was a chauvinist manifesto encouraging the ill-usage of mothers, disguised as anthropomorphic trees, you may stay.
But I didn’t come here to talk about the crime against motherhood that is “The Giving Tree.” I came here to tell you how that horrid rag inspired me to bitch about it on my blog and invite other parents (and a nonparent or two) to take down the kiddie lit they most detest in a series I call The Character Assassination Carousel.
It seems to me that there are many things veteran parents don’t share with newbies, freshman moms and dads, for fear that it will scare them too much (episiotomy) or that they simply can’t understand the depths of a particular parenting problem until they’ve lived it (potty training). But some things, some things I think we keep from them as a form of revenge. Hazing, the kids call it.
One of the time honored forms of parental hazing is doing things that only children enjoy. Mommy and me classes top that list, but also included are watching most children’s sporting events (especially practices), children’s television, going to toddler parks, and reading many of our culture’s children’s literature—especially choice classics like “The Giving Tree” and “Love You Forever.”
There’s a myth that any enjoyment your child might experience will translate to your enjoyment. “If Johnny’s happy, then I’m happy!” That is a bucket of feces.
In fact, many of the things your child will relish (Caillou!!!), will make you, if not emotionally depressed, repressed, or enraged—potentially physically ill (Lunchables!!!).
The kid books. From classic series like Curious George to new favorites like Pinkalicious, there will be, we veteran parents are pissed off to report, as many children’s books to loathe as there are to love. And my Character Assassination Carousel is where you get to burn them in virtual effigy.
This January will mark three years’ of online book burning on the Character Assassination Carousel (CAC). Here are eleven of my favorite pieces that have appeared on the CAC. As a bonus palate cleanser, I’m recommending a handful of kid’s books that also spoof literature, fairy tales, and folklore in a way that I appreciate and applaud. Happy reading!
This was the second ever CAC post. I’d written the first, then Kristine at Wait in the Van blew me away with the best send up of “Love You Forever” that you’re likely to find anywhere.
Here’s a hilarious blasting by Toulouse and Tonic of the Berenstain Bears, where sanctimony goes to breed. She took down “Too Much TV.”
Lisa Newlin cleverly took on “Where’s Waldo?,” not afraid to ask the important questions like, “No, really. Where is he?
Jenn of Something Clever 2.0 examined the unhealthy relationship propaganda that is the “George and Martha” series.
To “Once Upon a Potty,” Jean of Mama Schmama said, “HELL NO.” No to the world’s crappiest book, both figuratively and literally.
The boys at Point Counter-Point Point Point examined animal rights violations when they took aim at “Curious George Rides a Bike.”
Everything The Bearded Iris touches turns to comedy gold, and that’s certainly true with her assassination of “Llama Llama Red Pajama.”
Erin of Woof Tweet Waah did the first ever social media assassination by taking “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to task Instagram-style #hipsterassassination.
Even Seuss is not sacred on the CAC. Mommy Shorts spoofed “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” in this assassination titled “Oh! The Places New Moms Won’t Go!”
Stephanie of Binkies and Briefcases explored the onset of Arthur’s career as a pimp in “Arthur’s Birthday.”
Let Me Start By Saying’s Kim Bongiorno took on the giant glittery nipple that is the My Little Pony book, “Pinkie Pie’s Secret Place.”
But then, sometimes there are children’s book authors who take kiddie lit and reinvent it, poking fun at the genre and history itself, in the best ways. Here are four of my all-time favorite books that rework classic tales for the better.
There you have it, from assassination to applause, there’s more than one way to skin a kiddie book. And if you have a kiddie book of your own that need eviscerating, contact me, Nicole Leigh Shaw, a email@example.com. This carousel is always operational.
ABOUT NICOLE: Nicole Leigh Shaw consistently wonders, “Why did I come into this room?” Once upon a time she was a mostly serious news journalist, an accidental magazine columnist, and a mediocre editor. Now she funnels an enthusiasm for meeting minimum requirements into her blog, Ninja Mom, and finding pairs of socks for her kids that kind of match. With four kids under age eight (two are twins), she can say with confidence that she’s finally gotten the hang of this birth control thing: Facebook. Because one cannot procreate and update statuses at the same time. Like her Facebook page and follow her on her back-up birth control, Twitter.