Last week, after posting some thoughts I was having about my son, I was advised to look up a book called "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch. So, yesterday I went into the local Books-a-Million to obtain a copy.
Since my children are older and my niece and nephew are covered as my sister is definitely pro-book, I haven't wandered into this particular section in quite some time.
I noticed that it was in total disarray...which I am not sure is as much a symptom of sorry employees as it is that it is the way most kids' sections probably always look. I mean...when my kids were small...there was no way that their rooms looked pristine...ever.
That being said, I wasn't totally shocked. However, I was surprised that the way the books were grouped, which meant that it was nearly impossible to find anything. So, unfortunately, I left without the book I showed up to purchase because I just couldn't find it. I have also found that locating a bookstore employee for assistance (or actually receiving help if one is found) is akin to finding someone to check you out in a department store if you are in a hurry, or being able to find the right size on a sale item. In other words...so not happening.
I was trying to avoid online ONLY because I have been seriously fighting the temptation to order Julia Child's cookbook, biography, and the Julia and Julia book (that was recently made into a movie). I feel a bit of obsessiveness trying to sneak in...and for those who know me best...when I start obsessing, it pretty much takes over. I can just visualize trying to cook and finding that I have yet another hobby. So, I think that for now, I am safer to put the cookbook on my Christmas wish list.
However, I will have to order something else to get the free shipping (because this is necessary, as paying for shipping is about as appealing to me as swimsuit shopping). But choosing just one of the remaining books is way too hard! Guess I'll be going that route this afternoon, and I suppose I'll just start with Julia Child's biography...that's the one I'm most curious to read right now.
ANYWAY, I was combing the aisles for the book, and a few other titles just jumped right out at me. I suppose I can tell that Generation X, Y, or Z (certainly not a baby-boomer tail-ender like me) people are now writing AND editing. Some of the titles were quite telling in this regard.
My personal favorite was "Where's the Poop?" by Julie Markes. This is a "lift-the-flap" book using hand drawn animals. The point of the book is to apparently show that all animals defecate in different places as evidenced by the monkeys' flap being up a tree, and so forth. I can only imagine being in attendance as the author was pushing this particular literary wonder. I'll have to rate this one an "ewwww..." for obvious reasons
The next highest one on the atrocity scale was "Walter the Farting Dog" by William Ketzwinkle and Glenn Murray. This one just screams "we are stuck in college and we can't get out and we need some financing so we don't have to grow up and get a real job" but that might just be my take on it. The title was enough for me to put it back on the shelf without opening it at all. All I know is that my mother would have gotten one of her famous wooden spoons and worn out my behind for even proposing THAT particular title. (To my mother, "fart" is the "F-word." It was one of the few rules of life growing up (the others being: never go into her purse for any reason, never wake her up on a Saturday morning, and do not photograph her without proper hair and makeup or without warning. The latter was finally demolished in May 2006 after three consecutive days of rain in London.)
And then there are those books that are just wrong on some level such as "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young. No offense, Mr. Young, but could we not figure out a way to have the mice be ADHD or something a little less tacky? I mean, seriously. I still hate "Three Blind Mice" as a little song...and now we're up to seven in your book?
Speaking of tacky, how about "Tacky the Penguin" by Helen Lester. Apparently we are playing on the recent popularity of penguins and trying to inspire kids to just be themselves. That goes against everything that we are taught here in the South since being "tacky" is one of the worst things that we can say about a person, event, or manner of speaking. I know that we should be using the Northern term "tactless"...but nope, down here, we just call it "tacky." And we definitely don't name our children or animals such.
Another winning title was "Aliens are Coming" by Meagan McCarthy. No, THAT won't spark any angst will it? Please. I watched the movie "Frogs" when I was nine years old, and I still have trouble with them (unless they are of the stuffed animal variety). I don't care if they are one inch long and adhered to my door instead of the eight pound wonders hopping all over the screen in that horrid film. The resulting screaming is about the same on my part.
I also found that I was offended by the title "The Grouchy Ladybug" by Eric Carle because it brought back memories of Rush Week(yeah, yeah, I know they call it Recruitment now, but whatever) at Troy when all the Phi Mus were all grumpy and wanting it to be over. Since our symbol was the ladybug (and I hear it is making a return to the campus of The University of Alabama...yay!), this just has a negative connotation to me. I am not anti-Eric Carle at all since "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" was one of Jill's favorites.
Then I saw "The 7 Habits of Happy Kids" by Steven Covey and Stacey Curtis because it is never too early to start selling self-help books, is it Mr. Covey? What's next? Little classroom organizers with the wide rule lines and that dotted line in the middle? I think not.
On the upside, I did see a book called "Pinkalicious" by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann...probably two Phi Mus from somewhere. It was a cute book about eating some pink cupcakes and turning pink. The fact that they were eating in the book was my second clue that it was written by some sisters. (If they aren't Phi Mus, they so totally SHOULD be.)
When my kids were little, I read the book "Goodnight Moon" so many times that I can still recite most of it. I was disturbed to find a book called "Goodnight Bush" in the bookstore...a total left-wing conspiracy to discredit President Bush featuring Dick Cheney sitting in the rocking chair (as opposed to the old lady whispering "hush" with his gun on his lap) and oil refineries outside the windows. Okay, on a cleverness scale of 1-10, I'll have to give it an eleven. However, it is just so...WRONG...on so many levels (the biggest one being...that they use the same familiar illustrations and wording. And in all fairness...this was NOT in the children's section, it was in the humor section where I was looking for Erma Bombeck books.)
I noticed that Dr. Seuss is still there, as are The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the American Girl books, and Amelia Bedelia. I read Beverly Cleary books...and those are still out in force. I am glad that they are still there to compete with "Walter the Farting Dog" and all that.
I also saw some celebrity books like one that looked charming written by Dolly Parton, and I've been told that Madonna is now writing some. I would definitely purchase the former but not the latter...primarily because I've not forgiven Madonna for inspiring the bob I sported my senior year of college. I also think that it is probably next to impossible to discount the skank factor enough in anything she'd write to make it palatable to me.
All in all, I enjoyed my little trip to the children's book aisle. I know that I'm in a holding pattern right now...not really a consumer...but hoping one day to be again. I still have my Beatrix Potter books from childhood as well as a book called "If Everybody Did" that my grandmother purchased for me in 1966.
If you purchase a book for a child...inscribe a message to him or her in the cover, and put the date on it. My grandmother and great-aunt did this for me, and my mother did it for my kids. It is nice to be able to look back and see the faith that they had in me all of those years ago by giving me wonderful books to read. And if any of you haven't read Max Lucado's books for kids...you should. They are absolutely wonderful.