Submitter: I might be an adult, but when I find books like this I turn into a middle schooler. Really, publishers ought to run all of their books by a group of 12-year-olds. It would save everyone a lot of time and trouble
Holly: <Snort!> Ok, ok. There’s nothing really wrong with this book. It’s fine for a library collection. I’m not personally a fan of this art style – half-drawn, half real-life image. But, the rhymes are clever and it’s colorful. It’s fun to read about your junk. (Does anyone remember the Eddie Murphy song “Boogie in Your Butt”? It is now playing on a loop in my head. You’re welcome.)
Mommy and Daddy are Divorced
Perry and Lynch
Submitter: We are a faculty of education library, and have lots of picture books on how teachers can help kids deal with various difficult topics. We are doing inventory and I took the opportunity to weed this gem. The terrible black and white photographs caught my eye first. It looks like the authors just took their own home photos and stuck them onto pages with some text. The picture on the last page is the best one – so dark and blurry you can hardly make the figures out. While the subject of divorce is an important one, a lot has changed since 1985. Main character Ned would be over 30 by now. Surely we can find a more up to date book on the subject! It has been in our library for 20 years and never once circulated, so it was time to say goodbye to Ned and his divorced parents.
Holly: This book screams 1985! In fact, it looks even older than that. If it hasn’t left the shelf once in 20 years, it’s a good weeding candidate. If it was written for children who are now divorced themselves, it’s an even better weeding candidate.
Submitter: As parents of a biracial child, we wanted to like this one. Look! A local author! Look at the adorably dorky little utensil with the ambiguous little spikey-dready hair! But quickly we were howling in horrified laughter.
Daddy—Couldn’t biracial kids be something awesome? How about a float plane?
Mommy—Sporks are goofy. Don’t you get a little disposable spork with your samples at Costco?
Daddy—Sporks come with military rations.
Mommy— In other words, a compromise to save space and money that doesn’t actually do either job very well. Spoons and forks are things the way races aren’t things—easily definable, purposeful things.
Daddy—It is dehumanizing.
Mommy— Yet another story about how being different is ok because maybe ‘normal’ people will find a use for you. Why not just “there are people who are a million shades of blue, and some who are a million shades of red, and our daughter is a beautiful shade of violet”—not some awkward thing that can’t do any function well, but something that in itself is lovely? And the people who say, “What is she?—not blue? Not red? So she’s half blue and half red?” they just look like idiots.
Baby—Bah! Wiggles off my lap and starts throwing books.
Holly: I’m sure the author meant well, but I can see your point, Submitter. I’d like to see a picture book that skipped the negative altogether and just went for an “I’m unique and I’m awesome” angle without any suggestion that there’s something odd or wrong with that. I’m sure they exist. Youth librarians, enlighten us!