Sippican has some very interesting things to say about the Voldemorticians of Hire Education. And this is my presponse:
(First published 2000)
Like a frog relaxing comfortably in slowly heating water, I forgot to pay attention to certain things around me, and now that I feel the heat, it isn’t so comfortable, anymore. I keep looking for an escape, but there’s none to be found. So, I’ll just rant awhile.
The clue that the water might be getting a tad bit too warm, was stepping on one of my children’s books - the sort of book a teacher gives a student who finally gets 6 out of 10 words correct on a spelling test.
I promise you, I didn’t buy this book. I swear an oath to gouge my eyes out that I certainly didn’t write this book, either. Okay, enough suspense. Here is the title, and try not to vomit while reading it.
I would hate for that to happen:
I LIKE ME! By Nancy Carlson, published by PUFFIN books.
Copyright 1988, 1990. ISBN: 0-14-050819-8.
Just try to guess what this novella is all about. Yep, you got it. ME! The most holy person of the modern secularist’s Trinity: ME, MYSELF and I. No, it isn’t about MOI, the columnist, but the general, all-purpose ME, to the exclusion of everyone else.
Now that I know what it takes to be published as a children’s writer, I know I will never get published as a children’s writer, so I will devote myself to being a critic of modern children’s writing. At least I will prevent the build-up of spleen, and thus, save my organs for some more vital use.
In this issue of LET’S DAMAGE THE SELF-ESTEEM OF DIMWITTED DINGBAT WRITER NANCY CARLSON, we have to wonder what the party was like when this piece of shit came out in print. Her story is about a little girl-piggy, who loves herself and her image in the mirror, and how she believes herself to be special, though very much like everyone else. I imagine that her piggy parents have a bumper sticker on their piggy mini-van that says, "My child is a NICE student at P.S. 118, even though she’s a pig."
Miss Piggy-Thang goes on and on throughout the story talking about herself and how she is okay, and you can almost hear Saturday Night Live character Stuart Smalley’s effeminate voice reading this dullerie.
Actually, as my husband was accidentally reading this story to the three-year-old, (he had no idea what he was getting into) his voice began to drip with schmaltz, and before the last page, we were all laughing hysterically, especially the tyke. But there is an undertone of something sinister going on here, and it galls me.
It isn’t just this particular badly written child’s book. It is the entirety of mass-produced children’s culture, which has effectively supplanted parents, altogether. Modern kiddie-lit has become so unimaginative, so therapeutic and fluffy, that one need never wonder again why Johnny can’t read or write: Books ‘R’ Lousy! If you channel surf over to channels 12 or 13, you are likely to find your superdull PBS station. Just look at this federally financed marketing scheme that passes for educational TV, and what you find is sickening sweetness in overdoses. It is Prozac TV. Barney, Teletubbies and all the other suckworthies merely still the infant, while Sesame Street insures that they will be forever illiterate, and by the time the youngsters drag themselves to school, they will be sedated even more with Ritalin. No wonder kids are shooting up the place. THEY ARE BORED!
Gone are the days of Harold and his purple crayon, and Maurice Sendak’s voyage to where the wild things are. You remember these stories, don’t you? Harold and his purple crayon create a whole reality, cities, traintracks and the moon, Alice, the moon! In Where the Wild Things Are, the story starts out with Max being sent to his room for being naughty. I recall reading something many years ago about how this particular story caused such a brouhaha among the child psychologists of the day. They all worried that this story might actually DAMAGE, no, I believe the vogue word is TRAUMATIZE the little child who reads it, possibly for life!
My youth was filled with stories that would move me to anger, laughter, sorrow and every other deep emotion good writers have the power to evoke. I was lucky to have parents and grandparents who told me stories out of books, as well as regaling me with stories from their lives. Perhaps the family is so undermined these days by the relentless culture that imposes itself on every free moment of the day, into every aspect of life, that it is basically fighting a losing war.
Books are fraught with therapy and psychobabble, and television shows are preachy and simplistic. Every good thing has been stripped from storytelling that once engaged the mind and soul, and the only things left to appeal to are the emptiness and guilt that are associated with mind-manipulation.
My children are now old enough to revel in the writing of C. S. Lewis and Roald Dahl. I can’t wait until they desire greater intellectual challenges.
I am thankful that I had a father who made me listen to classical music and jazz. These are the gifts I have passed on to my own children, and while my kids stand out as archaic throwbacks among their classmates, they are the richer and wiser ones…not those kids whose parents indulge their every cultural whim and then shut the door, leaving the rest of us to clean up the mess. Geez, it’s getting hot in here, now. I’m done stewing.
UPDATE: The brilliant writer who brought us Pigs With Self-Esteem, has written another book worth avoiding called: I DON'T LIKE TO READ! Maybe Nance will get around to writing a book called: I CAN'T WRITE, BUT I GET PAID WADS OF FILTHY LUCRE TO PRETEND THAT I DO!