Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Kid's books are weird

My 19-month-old son loves having books read to him, which is great. But after reading the same books over and over again, you start to notice that kid's books are really weird.

And no, I'm not talking about the ones about the Queen's knickers or the way animals crap. That would be too easy.

Take Babette Cole's Dr Dog, for instance. The Gumboyles have a dog who is a doctor. Okay, I'm with it so far. But when Dr Dog goes to see his doctor, it is also a dog. Are they all called Dr Dog? If so, how do they differentiate between them, like for mal-practice law suits and all that malarkey? And there are other dogs who are just dogs, and yet still others who are like hula-dancer dogs.

In a similar vein, Hello, Cat You Need a Hat (published way back in 1979), which judging by the mention of cats and hats and the rhyming, is a cheap cash-in on The Cat in the Hat.

You really need to see it to get the bizarre effect, but I'll do my best. Most of the animals (mostly dogs and cats) in the book walk around on hind legs. Some are naked or, in the instance of the hat-hating hero, just wear a bow. Others are fully dressed: welder dogs, jockey dogs (the horse is a normal horse), astronaut dogs and so on and so forth. The police dogs, for some reason, just wear jackets and hats - no pants.

There is a total absence of humans, except in a Halloween trick-or-treating scene, in which there are a heap of human children, dressed up as witches, mice, crocodiles, adults and ghosts. It is very unsettling.

(Reminds me of that bit in Stephen King's "The Body" - filmed as Stand by Me - where the kids are trying to figure out what the hell Goofy is, seeing as Pluto is a dog).

Then there are the books with dodgy messages. We've got an old Golden Book version of Aladdin (pre-Disney). Aladdin meets this freaky looking dude who says he is his uncle. So Aladdin takes the 'uncle' home to meet his mother (the father is dead). Mum doesn't remember her husband ever mentioning a brother, but the 'uncle' says he's going to take Aladdin out into the country and he will come back very rich, so good old Mum tells Aladdin to go with the 'uncle' and do whatever he tells him!


Peaceful Thunder said...

yeah. kids books are kind of weird. and that aladdin thing...hmmm.

Gary Kemble said...

I know -- very dodgy. The moral of the whole story is that it's okay to be lazy because you'll find a magic lamp, marry a beautiful princess and live a life of luxury!