The American Dream

Being an American Can Be FunBeing an American Can Be Fun
Leaf
1964

Submitter: First thing I love about this book is that being an American “can” be fun…not is or will be, but can be fun.  It is a brilliant piece of Cold War writing…apparently if you complain about your food then you don’t deserve to live in our country and you will get shipped to a communist country were a dictator will tell you what to believe in.

Holly: Being an illustrator can be fun, too.  Perhaps the author should have invested in one.

don't be a picky eater

freedom of religion

  1. Hey now, don’t go hatin’ on Munro Leaf! He also wrote “Manners Can Be Fun,” “Grammar Can Be Fun,” and even “Metric Can Be Fun” (that Commie!)

    I mean, at least he’s being honest.

      1. Do you think Munro Leaf was in a contract to illustrate books that he wanted to get out of and that’s why he made such horrible illustrations here v. “Ferdinand”?
        Dang, I’m getting that old librarian curiosity going!

  2. I own a book by this author! It’s called WEE GILLIS and it’s about a Scottish boy. Wee Gillis was pretty happy even if he wasn’t American. But then, he ate his daily oatmeal without complaint.

  3. Yeah, we love the “Can be Fun” books at our house! We have “Safety can be fun,” “History can be fun,” and the Manners one too. The Safety book is the best book ever in the history of the world. Find it, you won’t be sorry.

  4. I love how he assumes that only people who live in the USA are Americans. Last time I looked, there are a slew of other countries in North, Central, and South America.

      1. I’m Canadian and no one here in Canada would refer to themselves as “American” because they live in North America. North Americans, maybe — but Americans? No.

    1. Dr Monkey:

      The USA is just one country so I assume you mean North America? USA does equal Americans.

    2. It’s a quirk of the English language: United States of America shortens to “American,” Canada to “Canadians,” Brazil to Brazilian, and so forth. And of course, like every language, English has its own words for cities, countries, etc. : only a complete ponce goes about saying “Veen” and “Pay-ree” or “Mah-gah-your-sag.” Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar…

  5. I am going to remember the next time my kids are being picky eaters to tell them they don’t deserve to live in our country and I may ship them off to the commies.

  6. I’m a big Munro Leaf fan! My personal favorite is “How to Behave and Why.” I even bought it for my nephew. All of his books circ like crazy in our library system. This one is admittedly more dated than some of his others, but they are all classics.

  7. My mom bought me and my siblings a copy of “Manners can be fun,” because she loved the book as a kid wanted us to too. I was pretty young at the time and the “Whinee” character scared the crap out of me! He was this grotesque depiction of a whiner that turned an otherwise innocuous childrens’ book into a terror.

  8. Leaf also wrote “The story of Ferdinand”, as classic a children’s book as any you’ll find.

    1. Thanks Kevin! Ferdinand is one of my all time classic faves…the MLK Jr of Bulls! A standout for teaching kids about the power of non-violence.

  9. Don’t grumble about the food you have to eat, but certainly don’t start asking questions about why can’t every American have food to eat at night; food stamps are Communist.

    You don’t want to live in a country where you can’t belong to a church and take part in government. It’s obviously better in America, where if you openly state your disbelief in any religious institution or God Him/Her/Itself, you will immediately be looked upon with great suspicion and be considered unelectable. Only godless Commies are atheists.

    1. Indeed a recent poll indicated Americans (Stateside-not the others) would rather elect a Muslim (whom we accuse our current president of being and pin every woe upon) rather than agnostics or atheists.

      Free to be an American….except a disagreeable one.

      1. Tongue in cheek comments go over like lead balloons in here.

        Not all atheists are Nazis, not all atheists are “commies”.

        You can comment about political books, but only if you keep it apolitical. Because this is a freedom loving American blog—Love it or Leave it!

      1. Not true – most Nazis were either Catholic (as Hitler was) or Lutherans; a few were neo-Pagans (as Jesus was a Jew.) The concept that Nazism embraced atheism is a fallacy.

  10. that is so funny, Ill try that one on my kid next time he doesnt want to eat what I give him ‘well in that case you dont deserve to live in this country’ LOL

  11. But guys, that’s Munro Leaf, the guy who wrote “The Story of Ferdinand.” That absolves him from some silliness in an ancient book.

  12. Haha, I picked this book up from a school library discard table and brought it home because it cracked me up.

  13. I’m glad others have mentioned FERDINAND which is an incredibly charming children’s book (I seem to have a vague memory of a Disney movie being made from it, but I’m not sure). I think we should forgive Leaf for BEING AMERICAN CAN BE FUN which is very much a product of its Cold War era.

  14. Don’t complain about what you eat for dinner but you can write whatever you want to…What kind of backwards logic is that? So if the whiny kid wanted to write a note complaining about dinner that’s okay but if they say it out loud its treason? Munro Leaf must have gone off the deep end after writing “Ferdinand.”

    1. Yes! I was like you expressing yourself about what you dont want for dinner is Un-American, yet you do not want to live with the Red Menace because then you can`t express yourself. So then….are mom and dad commies, too??!

    1. Thanks to Thomas the Tank engine, they not only know what “quarrel” means, it’s likely to occur when engines are “cross”–!

    2. I use it frequently, quoting from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians: “Please, children…don’t quarrel.” It cracks mine up every time (and bonus! They stop bickering)

  15. Hey good…I needed a new politically incorrect way of disciplining my kids. I’ve been telling them for years that I’d sell them to the Gypsies (as my parents told me) but now I can freely tell them I’ll ship them off to the Commies. 😉

  16. I agree with comments above – Leaf’s writing “The story of Ferdinand” completely absolves him of all other sins. It’s a masterpiece, and one I routinely give as a gift (along with “Guess how much I love you” and various Seuss books).

    Ferdinand FTW!

  17. “In the United States…nobody can control what you think.”

    I didn’t know the communists had mind control.

    1. They had piano-playing monkeys, too. Pretty cool combo, when you think of it…

  18. Oh no! I complain about my food all the time. Hmm, guess that means I’ll be seeing Russia circa 1964 soon.

  19. Didn’t Bill O’Reilly write a book like this for kids? around 2004. I can just imagine kids too afraid to say things about dangerously bad food. That is why we had a lot of 24 hour flu’s going around back when i was growing up in the 60’s. Mom would defrost the turkey overnight outside of the refridgerator, the next day after the meal we were sick. It is so RFG living in a Capitalist county that allows corporate food chains to sell crap.

  20. Awwww, Munroe Leaf! He also illustrated “The Timbertoes” in Highlights For Children. His work is CLASSIC.

  21. I am sure the “commies” would rather you not send your whiney children to them.
    … hmmm…
    maybe that’s why the iron curtain fell

  22. Woohoo! Our juvenile section has a few and the some of the others are in our consortium. Sadly no one has Being an American…. but I’m going to read the rest.

  23. But the Commies would just make them eat borscht and when they refuse, would ship ’em right back to the U.S.!

  24. Ferdinand! ‘Being a Spanish Bull probably Won’t be Fun’ or ‘A Little Man Dressed Like an Idiot Will Tease You with a Red Rag, then Stick a Sword in You’…

    But it’s nice to know that you God-fearing Americans are eating your meals without having to be told to by Commie Atheists like we Europeans are.

  25. But he also wrote “The Story of Ferdinand.” It’s one of the great anti-violence books ever.

  26. Americans are fortunate to be living in a time when complaining about food is no longer perceived as shocking. Folks of Mr. Leaf’s generation can probably remember rationing or worse, the Great Depression. Here in the U.S. our poor struggle with obesity.

  27. Holly, don’t assume the ‘illustrator’ you think is awful is not Leaf himself (it is), who clearly adapted his illustration style to each book’s topic – his brilliant illustrations for Ferdinand the Bull have been burned into my imagination since childhood. It takes a great illustrator to know how best to match their talents to different commissions, and which ones not to labor over too much! As for various generous commentators’ “forgiveness” toward Leaf for writing this book (and others’ uncompromising positions not forgiving a damn thing) – I’m sure your political attitudes in 2010 will look as sorely dated in 50 years as the self-help books shown on this site. Isn’t that why this site fascinates?

  28. To clarify, Munro Leaf *wrote* Ferdinand, but Robert Lawson did the illustrations. Leaf illustrated all his “Can Be Fun” books with the great, goofy stick figures.

  29. I love Leaf’s illustrations. I own “How To Behave and Why” and “Manners Can Be Fun” but did not realize there were others by this author. Love it!

  30. Funny how it says in some countries you don’t have the freedom to worship God to run the country, when in America, to be president, you don’t have the freedom to NOT worship God.

  31. wilnerd munroe leaf, a harvard man, wrote “ferdinand” in under an hour; it was subsequently banned in spain and burned in germany.

  32. Sparkalicious: Yes, the Timbertoes! I knew I recognized those illustrations. They made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, remembering days curled up with my Highlights magazines.

  33. Munro Leaf was working as a Specialist for the State Department and traveling on Foreign Service lecture tours during this time period. I think this book should be viewed through that lens.