Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Thoughtful and well-designed children's books do not go over well with my kid. Instead we get all Richard Scarry, all the time.

Richard Scarry is the guy who wrote the books that include Busytown and Lowly the Worm. If you don't have any kids, you probably don't know who Richard Scarry is, so just stop reading now and go back to sipping your mojito while simultaneously getting a massage and counting your money, or whatever it is that people without kids do.

David thinks that Richard Scarry books are truly creepy and feels there's something just not right about anthropomorphic pigs wearing lederhosen. But keep in mind that David -- and he will not be pleased to find that I have let this cat out of the bag -- David does not know which puppet is Bert and which one is Ernie. Also he thinks they are muppets. What I am trying to say is that David's opinion can't be trusted in important matters such as this.

(The reason David is not familiar with Sesame Street is that by the time the show started in 1969 [thanks, internet, for offering up some useful information other than the details of Chelsea Clinton's wedding] David was past prime Sesame Street-watching age. Plus he grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, which exists in some sort of parallel universe that runs 10 to 15 years behind the rest of the world. David has gets the shakes and shivers every time we enter Appleton city limits, which makes no sense because he gets along with his sweet, funny, compassionate, smart, and, let's face it, stunningly good-looking family. [I once saw one of my blog posts printed out and stuck on my mother-in-law's fridge with a magnet, so I want to cover all my bases.]

Appleton is a perfectly nice city and if I had to live somewhere in Wisconsin other than Madison, I would consider living there -- well, except for Madison and Milwaukee, I mean. And LaCrosse and Eau Claire. And anywhere Up North. And Janesville or Beloit. What I'm trying to say is that Appleton would be my 8th best choice for a Wisconsin city to live in, which is to say that I will never, never live there and in fact it ranks several places behind Jeffrey Dahmer's city of residence. So never mind.)

My main problem with Richard Scarry is his strict adherence to old-fashioned gender roles. I apologize for the poor image quality -- we're several generations behind in technology at our house, so I'm still using an old-fashioned scanner instead of whatever crazy laser pa-shmapper the kids are using to scan these days. Plus I think Stella may have smeared tahini on the scanner lens. The text says, "Grocer Cat bought a new dress for Mommy. She earned it by taking such good care of the house." The picture shows Mommy cat kissing Grocer Cat and his hat is flying off.

See what I mean? It's hard to read that sort of thing without editorializing. "First of all, Stella, Grocer Cat is a prick, a real prick. Second, I sure hope Mommy Cat had the good sense to get neutered."

Grocer Cat channeling Mel Gibson happens in a Richard Scarry story called "Everyone is a Worker." No, Mr. Scarry, not everyone is a worker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the most recent unemployment data show that 9.5% of the population are not workers (seasonally adjusted).

And another thing: the phrase "everyone is a worker" sounds suspiciously egalitarian. Sort of...socialist, even. Like maybe....something a Kenyan-born Muslim would try to get us to believe as he dismantles the capitalist democracy our soldiers have fought and died for. We need to fight this socialist menace, and it's time to fight fire with fire. We're going nuclear. That's right: it's time to bring out the pigs in lederhosen.


  1. I am hunting for copies of Dick and Jane.
    Just a little something to help present a fair and balanced perspective to your prodigy.

  2. Although I agree with the creep factor on most Scary stuff, one thing I want to point out: on "Everyone is a worker", "Mommy" is given job status, which is more acknowledgement of how hard parenting is than it gets from most... although the idea of Mommy being a harder job than Daddy is inherently sexist, isn't it? because why shouldn't Daddy be working as hard as Mommy? So never mind.

    I would like a discussion of how creepily trippy Goodnight Moon is. Or maybe how industrialization is represented in Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne or whatever that monstrosity Howie makes me read all the freaking time is.