Saturday, April 14, 2007

Children's Books That Never Were, Part 4

Fuse #8 requested I complete the Triumvirate of Mediocrity and so I shall. Then, I will return to altering books I actually like. I don't have the intense distaste for Love You Forever that I do for other books because there are some decent things about the story (i.e. the boy taking care of his mother when she's old and sick). However, I cannot ignore the ick factor of the mother sneaking into her adult son's house after he's married with a child of his own. There's got to be a balance in children's literature between the unconditional love of parents that is supposed to exist and the emotional space parents need to give their children in order for the children to grow in a healthy manner.

I know some of you love this book. If we were having a conversation about children's books, I would not intentionally disparage your taste in a story I knew you appreciated. I probably have some books on my shelf that would send you screaming for the Cascade Mountains. However, if you want to make me sniffle, skip Love You Forever and read to me The Clown of God instead.

Fuse, you promised me gold. Now, I want the gold. If I must, I'll take it in the form of gold-foil covered chocolate. Yummers.

From the editor:

Dear Robert Munsch,

I myself am not a parent, but I have plenty of friends who are. They all despair that their toddlers will never learn to use the potty. Some joke wearily that their progeny will go through high school graduation lines still wearing disposable nappies. Aside from the fact that some adults do have to wear diapers for medical reasons, your manuscript, “The Terror in the Toilet: Or, What Happens When You Refuse to Go Potty,” is offensive on so many levels. This is not a bad thing. Personally, I chuckled at the idea that the mother of the story would have to sneak into her son’s apartment late at night to change his diapers while the son’s wife was sleeping. Also, I enjoyed the part where the mother is so fed-up that she flushes the boy's rubber ducky down the toilet.

But… and this is a big but… some of the graphic depictions of the terrible things that will happen when children refuse to use the potty are going to be too disturbing for the general public. Diapers that don’t fit and leak all over the place during P.E. Class? Mockery by one’s 6th grade peers when something whiffy wafts out of diapers during Math class? Egads. Some might think you go too far, Mr. Munsch.

Instead of predicting dire scenarios for toddlers who refuse to poop in the potty, how about imparting a different message to bolster self-esteem? Something along the lines of “No matter what you do, I’ll love you forever,” with the little boy (grown-up) finally showing some sympathy to his elderly mother would be appropriate. Please keep in mind that Lighting Bug Books is a small press and we cannot risk alienating our readership with edgy stories. I’d like to see a rewrite of this manuscript, but only because I enjoyed The Paperbag Princess so much. "Grrrl Power!" as my niece Dottie would say.

Garrulous MacKenzie
Junior Editor of the Mailroom
Lightning Bug Books


HipWriterMama said...

This is too funny. I have to say, I like the book. It got my very weepy, but I'm not sure whether it was because child #3 was in my belly and all those flashing hormones.

I'll have to read this book again now.

limpy99 said...

Garrolous MacKenzie is rapidly becoming my hero.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

HipWriterMama: I understand. I really do. Six days after Lucia was born, Bede and I went to see "The Matrix: Reloaded." I was full of Percocet and sleep-deprivation. I cried through the whole movie.

Limpy99: What a coincidence! You are Garrulous MacKenzie's hero, too.

jone aka msmac said...

I agree with you. I always preferred I'll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm. Very funny post.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Jone: Thanks so much!