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picture books

Horny

Horny
Emery and Le Blanc
1968

Submitter: Here is a book that we do not promote but intend to keep on our shelves forever in spite of its unfortunate title: Horny.  It is actually a 1968 children’s book about a horned toad named Horny. The book describes a day in the life of Horny (aka Queen Horny) as she interacts with all her fellow wildlife in the desert. It is Horny’s egg-laying day, by the way, and this is just one of the activities she accomplished that day. We can never weed this book because it is a work of a local author, and we are proud of our many local authors in our collection – even if we do not display some of them prominently.

Holly: What a nice gesture to keep items by local authors! (Although “never” might be a bit drastic…but that’s another discussion.)  In 1968 people were so innocent, weren’t they?  An author could name their book about a horned lizard “Horny” and get away with it.  I bet most publishers and agents would highly advise against that these days.  The most surprising thing to me about this book is that it seems to have held up pretty well physically for 43 years!

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Not in Room 204

Not in Room 204 - cover
Not in Room 204
Riggs
2007

Submitter: Once again this book was found in the last weeding of the children’s room collection. It was found located in the parenting section and not regular picture books, but that is no excuse. If you just go by the cover, it comes across as just another book about elementary school, but that is not the case. It is the story of a new teacher who teaches her students about personal space, self-respect and the dangers of bullying, but then it becomes clear that one student, Regina, has a very, very, horrible problem…she is being molested by her father. There is actually a 2 page spread of the student at home! One side she is playing with her naked Raggedy Ann doll in bed and on the other side, she is huddled under the covers crying as the dark shadow of her father walks away. It is truly disturbing and dark and one wonders who this book was published for. On the one hand, it does encourage children being abused to tell a trusted adult (like a teacher) if they are being hurt BUT you can’t just read this to any child – it would have to be a very specific child in a very specific situation or else you could be causing nightmares, I would think anyway. In the end, the reader is led to believe that Regina gets the help she needs, but honestly I was too creeped out to read every page to get the whole story. I think that 2 page spread will haunt me for awhile.

Holly: There just aren’t any good ways of writing children’s books about difficult subjects, are there?  They all include some sort of creepy picture that hints at the dark situation.  I don’t know enough about child development or child psychology to say, so my question is: Do small children NEED to see pictures like these to understand and/or identify with the story? It seems to me that they would need to see the actual thing happening, which no publisher is probably going to  include in a picture book (although we’ve seen some incredible things here at ALB…).  That’s why doctors and counselors use puppets to indicate “bad touches” – so the child can actually SEE the body part being touched without having to experience it themselves.  No?  So do books like these do more harm than good because they aren’t explicit ENOUGH, or do they cross a line by being TOO explicit?  My second question, then, is: Do these pictures only creep out adults who understand what’s being implied in them?

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Yikes! Mom got a job?

momgotjob1

My Mom Got a Job
Smith
1979

Mom got a job and now life is cruel. The basic story is that child laments how Mom used to do all these great things and now she doesn’t.  Dad’s role and responsibility in parenting is somewhat vague.  As you can see from the image below, the new job also implies that Mom is letting kid slide on housework .  Kind of a boring story and the illustration on the cover (I think the eyes mostly) are giving me the creeps.  Not really that awful, but certainly no award winner either. I will admit to some personal bias on this topic as a well-meaning (idiotic) school employee told me that my part time library “career” was probably a contributing factor in my son’s less than stellar behavior during 8th grade. I will also point out that no one ever said things like that to my husband.  Said child also remarked to school officials that he was probably genetically pre-disposed to behavior problems since his parents were also troublemakers.

Another terrible mother who is responsible for all the world’s ills,

Mary

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