As a mom, I read a LOT. My kids love books, which is a good thing if I don't mind losing my voice almost daily. I've decided that reading is a lot like dating... you get out there enough and you're going to encounter some real "duds." So here they are, my least favorite children's books.
1. "Love You Forever" This is the creepy, skeezy, cringe-inducing story of a hover-mom who progresses to the point of insanity. The story begins with mom holding her new baby and singing him a little rhyme about how much she loves him that includes the line "as long as you're living my baby you'll be." Aww, that's sweet. Then he's a toddler and he's driving her up the wall, but at night she picks him up while he's sleeping and rocks him while singing that little song. Still cute. Then he's 9 years old and he's a pain in the butt and rude, but at night she sneaks into his room and rocks him and sings the song. Huh? Well, that's a bit weird but I guess it's still okay. Next he's a teenager and he acts like a total weirdo and she doesn't get him at all, and then at night she sneaks into his room and rocks him and sings to him while he's sleeping.
And now, it's just fricking creepy. Seriously, sneaking into your teen's room at night to rock him and sing him a little ditty while he's sound asleep? That's weird.
Unfortunately, it continues with him growing up and moving across town (escaping, maybe?) and his mom driving across town to climb a ladder into this window and rock him and sing to him while he's asleep. Eventually she gets old and calls him on the phone and says "You'd better come visit me." When he shows up she tries to sing the song but she can't because she's too old and weak so he picks her up and sings a similar song that says "As long as I'm living my mommy you'll be." Then he goes home and picks up his brand new baby daughter and sings the song to her. And the cycle of obsessive coddling begins anew.
Every time I read this I want to bathe in bleach. Mom needs a life, or a hobby, or something. I always picture her climbing into his window as an adult and the woman in his bed with him screaming and then he calls the cops and they arrest mom - again - for violating the restraining order.
There are so many ways this theme of enduring love as represented by the repeated singing of the cute little song could have been done WITHOUT the creepiness or the breaking and entering. Why go for the Norman Bates version of the story? shudder
2."Rainbow Fish" Perhaps it's because I only have the abridged, bath book version of this story that I hate it so. Maybe all the character development and nuances keep it from sucking so bad, and it's the watered down nature of this waterproof edition that ruins a truly sweet story. I hate this book so much.
Rainbow fish is the most beautiful fish in the sea because of his beautiful shining scales. Another fish asks for a scale and rainbow fish says no. The other fish stop hanging out with him. Rainbow fish is lonely so he goes to the octopus who lives in the cave who tells him to give away his scales. He won't be as beautiful, but he will be happy. Rainbow fish goes back and gives all the other fish a shining scale until he has one left. Now everyone is friends with him, and he is happy because he has someone to play with.
Moral of the story: you must give away pieces of yourself in order to be accepted by others.
Nick thinks I'm over-analyzing this one, but that's what I take away from it. If you are special, no one will like you because they'll all be jealous so you have to stop being special in order to make friends.
Here's my analogous bedtime story. Susy had beautiful, long, shiny hair. One day another little girl asked to have a lock of Susy's hair. Susy said no, so the other girls all decided she was a snob and wouldn't play with her. Susy went to the homeless guy who hung out by the playground for advice and he told her to cut off chunks of her hair and hand it out. "You won't be as pretty," he wheezed, "but it's better than being alone." Susy cut off her hair and gave it to all of the other girls and they made clip-on extensions from it and everyone had a long, beautiful chunk of hair. They all played with her again, oddly unaware that they were running around with another girl's hair stuck to their heads and that such a thing is truly creepy. The end.
Oh, and the sequel is about a whale that stares at rainbow fish and his friends because he thinks their shining scales are so pretty. When one of the fish calls him a total creeper he gets mad and attacks them. Rainbow fish smooths the whole thing over and everyone has a laugh about how much trouble all the fish get into because of being beautiful.
Pulling off pieces of yourself to hand out? A creeper who attacks you? What the hell kind of subject matter is this for children??? What's next? Rainbow fish and the squid with a van full of candy who needs help finding his lost dogfish?
3. "The Holes in Your Nose" This was a gift. A gift with odd, overly detailed anatomical descriptions and non-sequitors about picking your nose until it bleeds. Oh, and it ends with a picture of two naked kids because your body has lots of holes and the book advises you to keep them all clean. Bonus points for mentioning poop and flatulence and eating boogers.
4. "The Gas We Pass" Another gift. More overly detailed anatomical information and disturbing graphics. The biggest problem with this one is that we are trying very hard right now to get TJ to stop talking about farts and poop when it's not appropriate. So reading him a farts and poop story practically guarantees that he'll talk about those things. At the dinner table. Or at church. At the top of his lungs.
5. "Two Hearts" This is from a princess story three-pack. It's about Snow White and her prince celebrating their first anniversary, so Snow White rolls over to the dwarfs' house and says "Hey, can you guys clear out tomorrow so I can have dinner with my husband here? Oh, and get into the mine and get me a diamond. The best way I can show him I care is by displacing you for an evening and using slave labor to get him a bit of bling." It's ok, because her husband had the same idea. So the dwarfs are now in the mines with less than 24 hours to find not one, but two perfect diamonds for the entitled couple. Hop to, dwarfs. Hilarity ensues, with a lesson about true love. Even without the diamond demands, what kind of jerk goes to a friends house and says "Hey, can you go hang out somewhere else for a few hours so I can use your house to impress my significant other?"I keep picturing all the dwarfs out in the woods somewhere in the rain saying "you think it's okay if we go home now?" And I bet you Snow White didn't even clean up afterwards, so the dwarfs finally get their house back at 11:30 or something and it's trashed and they're up until midnight cleaning it. After a long day in the mines finding freebie diamonds for a couple who, not for nothing, have the entire kingdom at their disposal so they should have been able to have a romantic evening without bumming their friends' cottage. I'm just saying, is all.