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Evil lurking in the libraries

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment
Originally published March 27, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

In a few years, once the horror of what I almost did to my children passes, I’ll laugh at my parenting naïveté. But not now, while I’m shell-shocked at the gravity of my mistake, one that almost permanently damaged my little innocents.

See, I had always thought books were good things, and I believed “Guess How Much I Love You” was one of the best.

It’s a sweet, simple story of love between a father rabbit and his son. The two bounce through meadows and along rivers, each trying to out-bounce and out-love the other as Little Nutbrown Hare pulls out every trick in the little boy book on avoiding bedtime. Finally, he falls asleep and Big Nutbrown Hare nestles beside him and whispers, “I love you right up the moon and back.”

The only criticism I had of the book was my pronunciation problem. Until I got used to reading it aloud, daddy rabbit’s name often came out “Big Buttbrown Hare.” Not exactly the sentiment the author intended.

Or maybe he did. I’m much more enlightened now that I’ve read the truth about the book on amazon.com’s review area.

“A child wants to tell his father he loves him, and the father turns the exchange into a cruel game of one-upmanship. The child tries and tries until he collapses, exhausted - and still the father won't accept the heartfelt message and chooses to outdo his tiny child and have the last word. That this book is popular and well received is disturbing to me. The illustrations are very nice - and I'm hoping that this is the attraction people feel, since the message borders on psychological abuse,” wrote Novel Moniker.

It made me curious as to whether I was abusing my kids with any other bedtime stories. So I searched Amazon for reviews of “The Runaway Bunny,” a story about a mother so devoted that she’ll go to great lengths to convey that love.

Just as I feared: “Runaway Bunny” is dangerous, too.

“On one hand the message of a mom's unconditional love is rather sweet, but the way she goes about it is borderline creepy. By following her unwilling child all over the world she has the potential of appearing more obsessive and domineering than pleasant and caring,” wrote C Bashara.

Mind reeling, I rushed to my kids’ room to review their books for other harmful titles.

Mother Goose – you’re gone. “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe” clearly advocates a welfare state and irresponsible family planning. Not the values I want to teach.

“Three Bears” – keep your filth of my home. My kids aren’t going to learn about Goldilocks and her blatant bed-hopping promiscuity.

Dr. Seuss – you’re sick. Think of the message at the close of “The Foot Book:” “In the house and on the street, how many different feet you meet.” Let’s teach our children to play in traffic! And hasn’t anyone ever heard of stranger danger? I don’t want my boys meeting all those different feet.

Eric Carle – trashcan for you, and I don’t care how many awards you have in children’s literature. Clearly, they’ve all come from unsophisticated readers. A passage from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” for example: “On Saturday, he ate through one piece of (transfat-laden) chocolate cake, one (tooth-rotting) ice cream cone, one (high-sodium) pickle” and on and on, through salami, cupcakes and cherry pie. Isn’t gluttony one of the Seven Deadly Sins? Clearly inappropriate in this day of raging obesity problems.

That’s not the worst part, though. In the end, the caterpillar turns into a butterfly. It’s an obvious case of poor self-esteem and longing to be someone else. Not for my boys!

I’ve decided to forgo commercial offerings from now on and write my own children’s books. They’ll be psychologically balanced, non-abusive and printed on recycled stock.

“Once upon a time, there was a little boy whose mother loved him. But she didn’t love him too much, and definitely not more than he loved her. She let him roam the world at will and didn’t tag along, for fear she’d be considered creepy and obsessive.”

I think there’s a market for this.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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