Monday, January 25, 2016

How Flawed Are These Baby Books?: An Illustrated Guide

I've written before about some of the absurd products on which new parents waste their money. Buying gizmos like the Shampoo Rinser, Wipe Warmer, and Pacifier Wipes is the equivalent of flushing your money down the Boon Potty Bench Training Toilet. With that being said, I don't mind spending some scratch on baby books. Some of them (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, anything written by Dr. Seuss) are pretty much unimpeachable. But we're not here to talk about the good ones.

Here's the thing: The authors of many baby books are getting away with murder. Just because your primary audience consists of people who diarrhea themselves daily doesn't mean your books should abandon any hint of common sense.

To show you what I mean, here are the top eight instances of baby books insulting your (and your child's) intelligence:

8) "And goodnight mouse" (Goodnight Moon)

For those who haven't read the wildly overrated Goodnight Moon, the premise of book is the narrator saying goodnight to a bunch of household items. On the page up above, we see one of the worst-looking mice ever drawn. At least the previous page, "Goodnight little house", took a teeny bit of artistic talent, what with the 3-D roof and all:

The mouse, on the other hand, could have been drawn by the author's three-year-old kid.

On the bright side, "goodnight mouse" isn't the lamest thing ever written in a children's book. Actually, it isn't even the worst page in Goodnight Moon. Not even close. (Stay tuned.)

7) Momma Monkey, Negligent Parent (Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed)
Mom: "Another one of my kids fell off the bed. What should I do, Doc?"
Doctor: "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"

It's a real meeting of the minds every time those two idiots talk on the phone. No more monkeys jumping on the bed is some pretty great medical advice, huh? Thanks a lot, Obamacare.

Anyways, by the end of the book, here's how the baby monkeys look:

If the momma sent her monkey kids to school like that the next day, Child Protective Services would be knocking on her door within hours. The doctor would also probably lose his license for his less-than-expert medical advice.

6) "X is for...X-Ray" (50% of all A-Z Books)

Hey, can you guess what X is for????

:(       :(        :(

Anyone who's ever read a book about the alphabet is familiar with the "X is for X-ray" motif. If it's a topical A-Z book, like Animals A-Z, the author usually tweaks it: "X is for an animal X-ray."

For the record, the other 50% of A-Z books use "X is for Xylophone." Just once, I'd like to see an author go with "X is for Xanthine" or "X is for Xena the Warrior Princess." If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ever wrote a kids' book, he'd probably go with "X is for X-Rated." Wait, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has written children's books?

5) Blue horse (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?)

Painting a horse blue would kill it, like the naked lady from Goldfinger. Billy Madison, one of the biggest dummies to ever live, wanted to see a blue duck, but even he would have known that a blue horse is taking it too far.

(For those of you scoring at home, that's two outdated pop culture references in consecutive sentences. Don't expect too many Kanye mentions in this space.)

The blue horse just beat out this page from Brown Bear for a spot on this list:

My wife and I have shared plenty of laughs at this weird-looking teacher's expense, but some of them might come off as "had-to-be-there" jokes. Also, the more I times I see her, the more she looks like a bunch of the teachers I actually know.

4) Moby-Dick, the entire book (Moby-Dick)
When someone gave my son the baby version of Moby-Dick, I was excited and had pretty much the opposite reaction of Frank Wormwood. I thought it would at least follow the basic storyline of the novel. Instead of an actual plot, though, here's the type of crap you get:

Just like many of the "authors" on this list, Jennifer Adams is getting away with murder. Can I just draw a few anchors, ropes, and fish and call it Moby Dick? Sounds great! Matilda would be appalled by this book.

3) The Unrealistic Parrot (From Head to Toe)
The pattern of Eric Carle's From Head to Toe is simple:
"I am a seal and I clap my hands. Can you do it?" "I can do it!"
"I am a gorilla and I thump my chest. Can you do it?" "I can do it!"
On each page, the animal can do something, and the kid copies the animal. Simple and cute. But this book has one of the most nonsensical endings I've ever seen:

"I am I and I can wiggle my toes. Can you do it?" "I can do it! I can do it!"
First of all, "I am I"? The hell the shit is that? 

Secondly, the parrot would absolutely not say "I can do it!" here. He would say "Can you do it?" because he'd be parroting what the person just said. 

Not Eric Carle's finest work.

2) Sequels and Special Editions (Various Books)
Carle's Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar both have more editions than The Canterbury Tales.

I know I said The Very Hungry Caterpillar is unimpeachable, but that one idea has been turned into a finger puppet book, a major motion picture, and its own brand of enemas. It's just too much.

Meanwhile, the Five Little Monkeys franchise features at least eight books:

Momma must come up with some really creative ways to abuse her children in each of those books. Like, in Five Little Monkeys Wash the Car, do you think the wise doctor has to warn her against running her kids over?

Like most sequels, these books are just opportunities to cash in on proven ideas. I thought Home Alone 3 and Rocky Balboa were overkill in their respective movie franchises, but these children's books might be even more shameless.

1) "Goodnight nobody" (Goodnight Moon)

Our runaway champion is found near the end of the famous (for-some-reason) book Goodnight Moon. For those wondering, that grainy picture up there is the whole freakin' page. And yes, it's just a blank piece of cardboard with "Goodnight nobody" written in the corner. And yes, I'm jealous of author Margaret Wise Brown every time I get to this page. She must have had a damn good agent to brazenly leave that piece-of-shit page in the final draft of the book.

Well done, Maggie Wise Brown. Well done. Like every other author on this list, you're playing the rest of us for suckers.

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