Friday Fiction: Moe Q. McGlutch

Great Negroes Past and Present
Microwave Gourmet

Moe Q. McGlutch, He Smoked Too Much

Credit, once again, goes to the fabulous Carrie Anne of the Little Big blog. You simply must check out her blog for all kinds of goodness!

Little Big:Ellen Raskin, writer, illustrator, fashion designer, author of “The Westing Game”, is a badass. She wrote a children’s book about a smoking donkey, and she kills him without flinching in the end. Your kids will love it!”

Holly:  This book is alive and well in many a library. Why? Because you loved it when you were a child. Am I right? You hate weeding things you remember from your childhood and have pure intentions of sharing it with your own children. That’s lovely! What you should do is buy the copy that is currently available in the Little Big Vintage Shop on Etsy (for yourself, not for your library!). And then what you should do is go back to your library and weed this ridiculous picture book from the shelves.

Yes, it was written by THE Ellen Raskin of “The Westing Game” fame. Yes, she was a Newbery Award winner.  In 1979. My little sister was born in 1979. She’s now 35 years old, people! The book is 39! Let it go!  There are books that stand the test of time. Babar, Madeline, and Corduroy come to mind. Moe Q. McGlutch does not fall into this category.

While you’re in the Little Big Vintage Shop, take a look at this great cat book too!



  1. I find the information about your sister fascinating, since I was also born in 1979, but I am only 33 years old, not 35.

  2. I loved “The Westing Game” when I read it as a kid, even though it was written the year I was born, 1979. However, that makes me 33! Don’t age me prematurely, darling. 🙂

  3. I was also born in 1979, so I’m confused as to how your sister is 35. Unless you’re writing from two years in the future, which means the world didn’t end. Phew! However, if you’re writing from 2012, your sister is 33 (or maybe still 32), and I’m sure she doesn’t want you rounding up!
    But really this book sounds amazing and I want it.

  4. Not sure I understand why you’d recommend weeding a book that you personally liked as a child and in the same article recommend us to buy for our personal libraries. It doesn’t sound awful in the least and the picture above makes it look charming. Is it not circulating? Is it in a bad condition? That would be a reason to weed it. You didn’t mention any of those. So what makes it ridiculous?

  5. I find it troubling that this blog continually revisits the idea that there’s some sort of expiration date on all culture, or that only “new” books are worth having in a library’s collection. When you say that Babar, Madeline, and Corduroy “stand the test of time” and this book does not, what test are you referring to? What is your criterion for determining that this book is “ridiculous?” I understand and support weeding books that have a quantifiable shelf life, like most nonfiction, or books in which the content could be perceived as being sexist or racist as a result of the forward progress of society. This book falls into none of those categories, and is very highly rated on Amazon besides–mostly by parents giving it to their children. If this is circulating in your library, why weed it?

    Also, should it factor into your reasoning, the tired argument that a book is inaccessible to today’s children because it doesn’t reflect the culture they live in is filled with fallacy–I’m not certain there are many kids today who have much cultural reference for the turn-of-the-century French boarding school Madeline lives in (or the book’s highly stylized 1940’s illustration style). These factors don’t stop that book from being highly popular, likely owing to something children, at least, have in great supply–imagination.

    This kind of thinking is the same that led other similar media experts to turn Sesame Street into “Elmo’s World,” full of contemporary simple images, jump cuts… and very little intellectual content.

  6. I agree with the decision to weed this one. Smoking, whether it be cigarette, cigar, or pipe, is now an outdated issue itself. At one time doctor’s recommended brands of cigarettes as being “not so bad for you” and the general public was not fully aware of the dangers. At this time, we know that it will shorten your life. This title isn’t appropriate in our day and age because it approaches the habit of smoking in a cute lighthearted way that one might approach eating too much cake or not wearing shoes. Smoking is not a cute, lighthearted issue. No one writes children’s novels with a cartoon baboon who drinks too much whiskey or drives while under the influence.

    Standing the test of time is another issue altogether. We usually determine whether something has “passed the test” when it circulates quite a bit. A librarian will go to her computer, scan the item, and find out how many times a year it has been used since the year it was added. Madeline, Sesame Street, and Curious George do remarkably well year after year. I don’t have this title at my library, so I can’t speak for it.

  7. Here’s the test: I’ve NEVER seen this book, and I can only buy it at an auction site. It’s not front and center on the holiday gift display at your local bookstore! The cover is pretty 70’s generic “this book is instructive but fun” art. There are fresher anti-smoking books with covers the kids recognize. Those books circulate. Small public and school libraries aren’t print repositories. There has to be a selection policy, so welcome to the blog.

  8. At 9, life was certainly less complicated! But strange to me that you still think of me
    at that age when I have a daughter who is almost 9! Mac and cheese still served often here, so maybe I’m still 9 in part of my mind too!

  9. drasil, libraries exist to serve their users, not blog commenters. They have a pretty good idea of what circulates and what doesn’t in their library, and they have a finite amount of space. It’s not their job to keep an old and insignificant book (sorry, Ellen, but even in its day this was peripheral) available to make some cultural point at the expense of a new book that people actually want to check out. If you think library patrons should be checking out old titles instead of new ones, take it up with the patrons.

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