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TV Problems

boy who turned into a tv setThe Boy Who Turned Into A TV Set
Manes
1979

Thanks to a tip, I found this lovely book. It’s obvious this book is outdated. You youngsters might not know about “rabbit ears” (antenna) but if you are over 40, you probably had to help hold them in the right place so the picture wouldn’t be fuzzy. I think I spent the majority of the 1960s holding the rabbit ears while my dad fussed with tin foil.

Anachronisms not withstanding, this book is odd because it looks like a picture book but the text is pretty dense. There are even “chapters.” The basic story is that this boy watches so much TV, he ends up having a television on his stomach. (They never do address the health issues associated with this phenomenon. Kind of disappointing.) I am not sure of the intended audience for this book.

I am not sure I like the illustrations either. The people’s faces look weird and for the life of me I can’t figure out if the woman in the last picture is actually holding a box of ducks. She also needs a better bra. Any kiddie lit experts want to weigh in? I don’t get it.

Mary

inside flap

boy who turned into a tv set

illustration of boy's stomach with a tv

illustration of boy

10 Responses to TV Problems

  • Stephen Manes, author of Be A Perfect Person In Three Days. Goofy, preadolescent humor. Yeah, the illustrations are definitely dated, but he is/was a good author.

  • Michael Bass’s illustrations are, to say the least, off putting.

  • I think the lady is holding a box of Peeps. She seems to be a fashionably free kind of late 70’s mom, judging by her clothes. I make NO comments on the teeth, teeth, teeth!

  • My parents always told me that I watched so much television that my pupils were turning square… this book takes it up another level.

  • It definitely had potential to be a story kids would enjoy, but the outdated (and slightly creepy) artwork and dense text won’t make it appealing to many or compel them to actually pick it up.

  • I… think this is meant to be in the same vein as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as an attempt to encourage children to read? But the illustrations are mind-bendingly bad and terrifying, and the “happy ending” — that Ogden ends up being a walking, talking television on television — is more Kafkaesque than humorous. And yes, the lady with all the teeth appears to be holding a box of chickens — or Peeps? — and I am guessing that this is a talent show and her talent is being compared with Ogden’s and it is somehow concerned with chickens and teeth… going to keep the bedroom light on tonight, for sure.

  • That reminds me of the rather wonderful short film “The Boy with a Camera for a Face”: https://vimeo.com/151493973

  • I think I prefer the book Bud the Spud by Adam Byrn Tritt about the dangers of sitting around watching too much tv. The choose-your-own ending has some rather appalling choices.

  • I’ve never seen this book, but I loved Stephen Manes as a kid! I still have a copy of “Chicken Trek” and it holds up.

  • That’s certainly a unique concept.

    And note to all artists: when you draw teeth, please don’t heavily line every tooth all the way up to the gumline! It looks so disturbing.

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