Betrayed!

We are in the happy vicinity of Chestnut's birthday these days, and the other day we had her birthday party, which meant a variety of interesting presents, one of which was this:

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This was from the girl to whose home she had reverently brought If You Lived in Colonial Times… (which we discussed earlier) and I figured it for a hit. After all, we've gone through If You lived in the Days of the Knights and If You Lived When Women Won their Rights etc etc. What could go wrong?

But once the guests had left and the insanity had subsided, Chestnut disappeared into her room to read. And then she reappeared. Pissed off.

"This isn't right."

"Hmm?"

A straight finger stabbing the poor unfortunate cover of If You Sailed…. "This. It's not right. It's not doing it right."

"What?"

And she got down to it: the illustrations are wrong. The information is too specific, too narrow; it's not interesting in the same way, it's not fun, it's not….right.

We looked over it: same author. Same publisher. Which left me with just one explanation. But how exactly do  you explain to your kid that when a publisher has a lucrative series on its hands, it just squeezes and squeezes and squeezes it, until all it yields is a weak-ass simulation of the great thing she once loved? How do you deal with adult and corporate greed, and how it gets in the way of greatness all the freaking time?

I don't know. I wasn't able to do it all that well. I mean, the examples are legion: the Froggy books weren't particularly inspired to begin with, but when you get to Froggy's First Kiss for Valentine's Day, it gets toxic. Not to mention what happened to the Boxcar Children: Look, Benny's hungry again! Boy that's funny! Again!

And I generally try not to mind it, because normally the kids don't notice it, and if they're happy, then who cares, sort of (gee, I'm sounding like a particularly crappy critic today).

But let me tell you: this time Chestnut noticed. And she is pissed. Scholastic, beware.

4 thoughts on “Betrayed!

  1. YES! I saw an ‘Olivia’ book in the supermarket the other day. A wan, anemic, saccharine version of an Olivia book, proudly advertising “As seen on Nick Jr!” on the front. It was overdesigned, the drawings were crappy cartoonish knockoffs of Ian Falconer’s style, and the text was just stupid, where the REAL Olivia books were clever and enchanting. I’m with Chestnut!!!

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  2. It makes me sad that she lost that little bit of innocence; my kids still haven’t noticed that Box Car Children #295 isn’t quite as good as #10 (personally I’m just bothered by the extreme modernization of the kids’ wardrobes on the cover, but I’m neurotic like that). But it sort of makes me happy to realize that it’s not just that “everything was better when I was a kid.” It’s more complicated and has more to do with fewer, better things, rather than a thousand kind of crappy ones.
    But happy birthday to Chestnut. As much as I kind of wish they would stay little forever, it sounds like she’s turning into a pretty intelligent, insightful, terrific person!

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  3. By the way, Diamond, the kid who lives on the first floor of our building is going off to college and had an enormous book sale this morning. We bought a half dozen or so of this series, after learning about them here. I hope we have ended up with the better ones–we chose based on topic (not illustrations) and have no prior experience of the series for comparison.
    I can say that by early afternoon, T & I had learned quite a bit more about the Cherokee than we had known previously–for which I thank you and this blog.

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