On Children’s Books

Something is wrong with me.

Maybe it is cynicism, I don’t know. But one thing about being a parent that I am still stuggling with is reading children’s books.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to do the voices and to try and figure out the cadence in Dr. Seuss stories, and love the silliness of many of the books. I even like the drawings in most of them. But I can’t help but get annoyed by the lack of logic in many of them. I know children’s books aren’t supposed to make sense. I can accept that on a very general level. It is the specifics that bug me.

Examples after the jump…

Let’s take, for example, one of my daughter’s current favorites, and one I really enjoy reading – Horton Hears a Who. I can accept that there are these tiny little creatures (are these the same Whos that are in the Grinch? If so, does that mean the Grinch is tiny and that Santa Clause makes tiny little gifts for them??) who someone decided a dust speck is a good place to build a town, and that animals can talk, etc., etc.

There are two parts, however, that bother me. The first is the jungle monkeys who start talking about Horton talking to Whos and the fact that the Whos have a mayor. Well, if they cannot hear the Whos (which is part of the premise of the story), and Horton hasn’t mentioned “Whos” or a “mayor” out loud, how did these monkeys obtain this knowledge?

The other part that bothers me is after the black-bottomed eagle drops the clover with the speck on it in a field of clover. I can accept that it take Horton all day to find the correct clover, but why doesn’t he just disregard the clover that are still in the ground? He knows his clover will be “unattached”. Maybe I can just write this off to Horton not being a particularly bright pachyderm.

Another example is a book my daughter has about the three little pigs. The first pig builds his house by helping a lady lift her straw and getting some straw of his own in return. The third little pigs gets her bricks as a reward for climbing a ladder because a builder is afraid to climb a ladder (which could also be a “wtf?!?” moment). The second little pig, however, helps a lady collect sticks, and is rewarded with sticks. Why not just collect his own sticks? I guess maybe he got less sticks from her than he helped her collect, so maybe he’s doing a good deed. Okay, maybe this is not a strong example, but it just demonstrates what’s wrong with my mind that I think these things.

Again, I really enjoy reading (most) of my daughter’s children’s books. Honest.

Is it just me?

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3 Responses to On Children’s Books

  1. BookGirl says:

    I can see this being a problem for me once we start reading books to our kid. There’s a reason my husband and friends call me the “logic cop.” I guess I’ve ruined a movie or two for them in the past…

    [Kaz: Oh, so you’re one of those people! I can remember going to see The Matrix with my cousins-in-law; one who is a computer animator and one who practices martial arts. There was a lot of commenting going on!]

  2. Terry says:

    So you probably don’t want to know that in the Curious George book, the main hero, George… smokes a good pipe before going to bed.

    Of how about the bookDavid Get’s in Trouble It’s like the handbook of what not to do… “But she likes it”, “I was hungry”, but he does redeem himself in the end.

    Or how about “In My Heart” by Molly BANG. I just love to say her name, yeah… it’s 18yo frat boy in me. This book is some wierd artsy book that was getting 1st request at bedtime ready. it’s a sweet book, but the imagery takes a little getting used to…

    and then there is “How Became a Pirate” 10 grown pirates who recruit a kid off the beach to be their digger. As if he could make a bigger hole for the massive amount of treasure. His credentials… a nice moat on a sand castle.

    I always think that I can write a good children’s book until my Math & Science degrees overtake me and suck out the creativity.

  3. Jeff says:

    I would condemn you as a “fuddy duddy”, but I agree that while children’s books are supposed to be fantastical and impossible, they should follow their own rules. If a character can fly by thinking happy thoughts, they shouldn’t be allowed to fly home dejectedly etc.

    As for your pig, consider that those sticks may have been gathered on the lady’s private property, thus, he couldn’t have just gathered them himself… maybe the problem is that children’s books lack the necessary word count for proper back story?

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