Now How is this a Good Idea for a Children’s Book? And How the Hell Did This Get Published?

The other day I came across the a website site devoted to terrible library books libraries everywhere removed from their shelves. Of course, many of them were outdated and damaged, while others tend to be outright inappropriate to put on the shelves. Ones that particularly caught my eye were a good set of children’s book which either discussed a certain subject which I would see as inappropriate and/or completely misses the point or even gives a message that’s completely wrong and harmful to kids in general. Some people think that anyone can write a children’s book (not really) yet many of these examples tend to make me disagree as well as scratch my head thinking was it a good idea gone bad, how can this be a children’s book, and how did this ever get published.

1. Worst Children’s Book Author: Doris Sanford. Sure she writes kiddie books on serious issues only to manage to mislead as well as terrify parents and kids of all ages everywhere. Her books usually date from the 1980s or 1990s or  right around the time when I was a kid. These are usually books that tend to feature a child with abusive parents who shouldn’t have kids. Yet, she seems to discuss nothing wrong with the parents’ abusive behavior unless it involves pedophilia, satanic rituals, drugs, or alcoholism, and she conveys her message badly. Also, the artwork is beyond creepy and sometimes the subject matter is rather inappropriate for children. But don’t take my word for it, perhaps see for yourself how Doris Sanford discusses issues to kids like:

Satanic ritual abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/satan-for-kids/><http://awfullibrarybooks.net/satan-for-kids-part-2/>

Titled: Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy

Child sex abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/please-dont-talk-about-it-anymore/>

Titled: I Can’t Talk About It

Teen Drug Abuse: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/please-dont-talk-about-it-anymore/>

Titled: I Can Say No

Divorce: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/daddy-left-because-you-were-bad/>

Titled: Please Come Home

Parents Having an Argument (or just plain being abusive to kids, I can’t tell which): <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/lisas-parents-fight/>

Titled: Lisa’s Parents Fight

Alcoholism: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/mommy-is-a-drunk/>

Titled: I Know the World’s Worst Secret

After looking at these books you might want to be sick.

2. Most Unintentionally Hilarious: Well, it’s perhaps Latawnya the Naughty Horse Learns to Say “No” to Drugs by Sylvia Scott Gibson. Another children’s book with a message which does get across but it’s pretty badly written. However, this is a terrible way to teach kids not to do drugs. Yeah, the characters are all talking horses but still, the illustrations of the horses smoking and drinking, well, I don’t think any parent or child can come across them without nearly dying of laughter. Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous but falls into the “so bad, it’s good” variety. About as effective to teaching your kids not to do drugs as Reefer Madness.

Here’s a link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/partying-horses/>

3. Worst Message for Young Girls: I would say it would have to be between Maggie Goes on a Diet and My Beautiful Mommy. Both books are certainly geared to young girls and convey terrible messages about physical appearance and your time be much better spent if you and your daughter watch The Little Mermaid or Snow White. The former is about a teenage girl with a weight issue who ends up improving her life after she went on a diet and lost weight (such as improving her soccer game, grades, and suddenly being popular and attractive to boys). Look, in a climate of high obesity rates, I understand how important it is for a child to lose weight since we all know the health risks like diabetes, heart disease, back pain, and early death. We should encourage our kids to lose weight or go on a diet but it should be discussed as health issue and should only be done for health reasons. Also, exercise should be in equation as well. This book doesn’t discuss it as such and presents a diet as a cure for negative body image and poor self-esteem. Losing weight might improve self-esteem but it’s not going to quite make you popular, desirable to boys, or better at school. The latter is about a girl whose mother has plastic surgery (like a tummy tuck and a nose job) which is discussed in glowing terms even though there’s absolutely no reason to have it. She looks fine. I mean this is the mother being insecure about her own looks and aging, especially weight gain, which is normal for anyone who’s at least 30. If there should be a book about mommy getting plastic surgery, then perhaps put her in a disfiguring accident for God’s sake and discuss how cosmetic restorative surgery helped her get her life back together. Still, both these books teach girls that appearances matter and if your unhappy about your own physical appearance, you should change it, which will make everything better. What a load of crap. Oh, and their both written by guys, one a plastic surgeon in Miami.

Link to Maggie Goes on a Diet: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/you-are-never-too-young-to-think-about-going-on-a-diet/>

Link to My Beautiful Mommy: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/mommy-needs-to-get-pretty/>

4. Most Scary Subject Matter: Why, Nobody Wants a Nuclear War by Judith Vigna. Of course, there is no perfect way to talk to our kids about scary subjects, especially the concept of nuclear warfare prone to obliterate everyone practically in it’s path. Heck, it’s a scary subject for adults. Still, even worse, this was written in 1986. 1960 might have been better since the Cuban Missile Crisis happened around 1962. Read this to your kid as a bedtime story and you will be sure he or she will have nightmares.

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/end-of-the-world-for-kids/>

5. Worst Children’s Book Ever: I would have to say the honor has to go to a book called Alfie’s Home by Richard Cohen which is probably a great candidate for perhaps the worst kiddie book I ever came across. There are just so many things wrong with it that I would never recommend adults even to read it. Yeah, it’s incredibly fucked up and beyond terrible. For one, the book’s subject is about homosexuality with it’s message that it’s not okay. And of course, this is probably intended for Conservative Christian Evangelicals in the Bible Belt as well as Ex-Gay ministries everywhere. Second, it’s about a boy who questions his sexuality since his dad’s constantly working, his parents fight all the time, and his creepy uncle is sexually abusing him. Third, there’s actually a scene with the boy and his uncle in bed together and it’s implied that they are doing naughty things. Not to mention, there are pretty creepy parent diagrams later. Seriously, who shows child molestation in a children’s book, honestly? And to make things worse, the school guidance counselor attributes the kid question his sexuality because his dad’s not spending enough time with him or his mother. So the parents go to marriage counseling, the uncle gets some undefined help, Alfie spends more time with his dad, and later you see Alfie all grown up and with a wife and kids who’s not gay anymore. Really? Not only does this book portray homosexuality inaccurately, but considering what is happening in Alfie’s life, his sexual orientation is perhaps the least of his problems. Also, being a child of sex abuse can screw someone up for life. God what an awful fucked up book. Must’ve been published by a Christian publishing company in Texas or some other Southern state.

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/gayness-explained/>

And here’s another review: <http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/blogs/latest/entry/the-worst-childrens-book-ever-alfies-home>

6. Most Cringe Worthy Cover: Todd and the Talking Pinata Talk Sacrifice, though the story is not bad and it’s actually not the Talking Pinata that gets sacrificed, you have to wonder. Also, Talking Pinata and baseball bat? That could get ugly. Still, pretty weird.

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/friday-fiction-todd-and-the-talking-pinata-talk-sacrifice/>

7. Worst Excuse for a PSA: If People Were Perfect, which is an e-book from KeepYourChildSafe.org, which is to address sexual abuse and prevention. Still, it doesn’t seem to prevent kids with being traumatized, especially with those creepy illustrations. Not to mention, it’s an e-book. Also, they have another one called The Day My House Catched Fires (honestly, believe me).

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/e-weeding/>

8. Worst Use in Photography: The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright. May seem like a cute idea at the time like in 1957, but by today’s standards it’s sure as hell creepy and willing to traumatize your kids into nightmaredom as we know it. Also, the doll gets spanked by a teddy bear. Jesus Christ.

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/the-other-bride-of-chucky/>

9. Worst Retelling: The Magic Nutcracker which is kind of a creepy story catered to young girls since it’s made into a ballet, Yet, these pictures are oh, so creepy. Then again, many fairy tales tend to be creepy in general. This will make your children cringe around Christmas time. Also, pretty badly written.

Link: <http://awfullibrarybooks.net/nutcracker/>

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Fictional Heroes Who Probably Don’t Deserve Their Fame

There are heroes in both real life and fiction who we all root for and admire but there could be instances when heroism is a tricky thing. Sure most heroes aren’t perfect but by the end of the day, they are the ones who save us, protect us, and inspire us. However, sometimes we tend to heroize people we really shouldn’t not because they’re flawed individuals (for even flawed individuals can achieve heroic deeds) but because their heroic deeds are either fraudulent, could easily become disastrous, or weren’t at all heroic in the first place. A good example of such would be Lance Armstrong who though it’s heroic he managed to overcome testicular cancer and win the Tour de France seven times, the fact he won on steroids is the main reason why he doesn’t deserve to be on a pedestal. Here are a list of fictional heroes who we may admire but don’t really deserve their fame.

1. Superheroes

From: Comic books, movies, and other media

Why we admire them: Well, they save everyone from total annihilation from some crazed super villain all for the greater good and with awesome super powers (or really cool gadgets) that really come in handy. Also, many of them tend to be fairly safe and accessible role models for kids and adults of alike who can be destined for nerdom compared to many of today’s professional athletes.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Sure superheroes may be pretty awesome but except when there’s a dangerous super villain who needs to be vanquished, their heroism might have the potential of inflicting more harm than good in other. For one, superheroes have a terrible habit of inflicting collateral damage that might cost not only dollars but perhaps lives. This may not mean much if faced against a notorious super villain but in the realm of day to day crimes, using superpowers might be a little overkill to bring those crooks to justice. Not to mention, many of these superheroes don’t take any responsibility for the damage they may have inadvertently caused either because they can’t afford to (like Spiderman) or just choose not to (like Batman). I mean many of these guys have secret identities for a reason and certainly don’t want their deeds traced to them (of course, Tony Stark is an exception since everyone knows he’s Iron Man and certainly takes responsibility for the damage he causes). Second, most of them tend to be the poster children of vigilantism who usually take the law in their own hands whether the authorities authorize it or not. Sure some authorities in the DC and Marvel universe may be perfectly fine with superhero vigilantism especially if it’s against a super villain but no authority would allow a normal person get away with all that. Third, some superheroes tend to be a magnet for danger since many of their loved ones tend to get into bad situations a lot and some super villains may have a personal vendetta against a superhero as well.

2. John Wayne characters

From: John Wayne movies, of course, usually westerns and war movies

Why we admire them: Since they’re the ones who usually save the day in the end and are the only people who know how as far as his fans are concerned. Also, tend to be the leaders many American men once saw as an All-American hero who embodies the best aspects of American values, patriotism, and masculinity.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Because most of John Wayne’s characters are really full of crap and tend to be assholes at best who don’t listen to anybody else’s idea of the situation, always insist that they’re right, and whine as well as bully everyone else all the more tomorrow until he gets his way. He’s not considerate for other people nor seems to think of the consequences of his own actions. Meanwhile, the townspeople are totally lost on what to do while the bad guys are making preparations to strike because John Wayne won’t shut the hell up. Oh, but since John Wayne is always the hero, he could do no wrong usually gets away with it, too mostly by luck. And how does John Wayne get rid of the bad guys? Usually through violence, which really isn’t the best solution, especially if the bad guys are Indians who just want to remain on their land like their ancestors had for thousands of years but keep getting driven off to reservations by white settlers who don’t wish to share with them or the U. S. government. Not to mention, most of John Wayne’s characters aren’t nice to women, especially if they’re played by Maureen O’Hara. Definitely not guys you want to have around.

3. James Bond

From: The Ian Fleming novel series and the movie franchise

Why we admire him: He’s a spy and makes working in an intelligence agency seem classy. Not to mention, he’s a gentleman who attracts pretty women and drinks martinis. Also, he’s willing save the world from hostile takeover from treacherous selfish men who will stop at nothing for power, revenge, or other selfish whims.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to him: For one, he’s not really a spy, he’s more of an assassin who doesn’t seem to be very covert about his activities (I mean you can’t really cover up an explosion, car chase, or anything that consists of a climatic action scene). Also, tends to cause collateral damage which spies and assassins usually try to avoid at all times. Not to mention, he smokes and drinks as well as screws with any beautiful woman there (even if they’re affiliated with the enemy which isn’t a good idea)  and gets all the glory. Then there’s the fact he lives an extravagant lifestyle everywhere he goes with all expenses paid by MI6. Meanwhile, there are countless secret agents who are doing the actual spy work from 9 to 5 at the office who don’t get to travel, don’t get the pretty women (or men in Money Penny’s case), and don’t get the credit when a Bond villain is taken down John le Carre has to write about. Also, most Bond villains are pretty much idiots to begin with and intelligence work usually tends to be a group effort anyway. 007 may be a brave and loyal spy but he’s not the only one trying to take down Goldfinger.

4. Indiana Jones

From: The Indiana Jones movies

Why we admire him: He’s a badass archaeologist who tackles Nazis with his whip to protect precious artifacts despite his fear of snakes.  He’s a great adventure hero to boys despite being a horn dog. I mean what boy doesn’t want to be Indy? Not to mention, he’s a very likeable guy despite his flaws that we don’t care how much of a jerk he is at times.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to him: Bad habits aside, Indy is probably not an accurate depiction of the adventurer archaeologist even by 1930s standards. I mean he’s a professor who obviously doesn’t take some of his grad students with him to the places he’s at. Not to mention, he’s rarely seen doing what an archaeologist normally does which is looking for artifacts from a archaeological dig. Sure this may be boring and the artifacts might not be that valuable or interesting (like pottery bits) but still, that’s what archaeologists do. Not to mention, he unintentionally destroys ruins when fighting the bad guys and doesn’t seem to authenticate his findings (like a crystal skull perhaps). He may kick Nazi butt, but he’s hardly a good archaeologist. Also, slept with the enemy on one occasion.

5. White Saviors

From: Any kind of media that takes place in history which may or may not have happened that usually deals with the relationships between white people and minority groups and natives.

Why we admire them: Because many of them are actual historic figures known for helping minority groups or natives and they usually make most white people feel good about themselves. Also, we know their hearts are usually in the right place and they always seem to do the right thing despite what everyone else may think.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them (or at least some of them): Well, this is more of a mixed bag since many of them are genuine heroes who either helped save them or even allowed them to save themselves. However, they do have a tendency to cause unintentional racism like the notion that these people are incapable of saving themselves or need a white person from the outside to help them and complaints among ethnic minorities. Not to mention, fiction dealing with white saviors tends to be sentimentalized  a great deal. Also, some of the scenarios are pretty unrealistic in themselves as well. Whites living as Indians? Pretty plausible as in Dancing with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, and Little Big Man. An American samurai warrior? Oh, hell no. Sure white savior movies might be entertaining but perhaps we can have a little more diversity, Hollywood?

6. Private Eyes

From: Pulp fiction novels, film noir, and similar media.

Why we admire them: They dress nice, have a cool head, and stick to their principles no matter how much they clash with the cops or their own flaws. Not to mention, they’re the smartest guys in the room who solve the crimes and are willing to show the bad guy who’s boss. We always love these tough guys and loveable rogues.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Because even though they do get the bad guy and solve the case it’s usually when the perp has already left a trail of bodies in the mean time. Also, they tend to drink and smoke a lot as well as sleep with a great many women who may seem helpless at first but then usually end up being their worst nightmares. Not only that, but they also tend to make their own job seem like a glamorous profession when it really isn’t. Most private eyes don’t really solve murders unless upon request by the victim’s family or police (and many of their cases don’t really involve murder at all, initially). But what kind of cases do private eyes mostly investigate? Well, background checks, dirt digging, and spying mostly. Many of them tend to spy on people who are suspected of cheating on their spouses. Also, many of them tend to be disgraced former cops who may not be the nicest people in the world.