28 April 2010

From the "Are You Kidding?" Files:

I blame the publishing houses. I know that some children's authors are quirky. I know that children like the gross, the weird, the improbable and the downright silly. It makes me laugh too. I also know that the creepily-inclined have the same First Amendment right as any other citizen of this fair land to write a children's book if they wish. But, good heavens, must they be accepted for publication?

Take the story of the egg who wanted to fly (Egg Drop, 2009). The story is about an egg with an apparently long gestation period, who, in the course of in-shell life develops such a yen to fly that it climbs to the top of a tower (an impressive accomplishment without legs) and hurls (since jumping or leaping is out of the question, I guess) off into the air. The result is predictable. The story ends with the egg finding its alternate destiny (as well as its person) scrambled on a breakfast plate.

What this is meant to convey, even as entertainment, to the innocent demographic to whom it is aimed (4-8 year-olds) is beyond me. Perhaps it is a cautionary tale about waiting patiently - after all, future limited flying capability is not out of the question for a chicken sans shell. Or, maybe "Pursue your dreams even if you smash onto the pavement below." I find myself asking, a bit rhetorically, "Who scrapes an egg off the pavement and fries it anyway?"

Maybe there is no point except humor - and here, I expect, I will be called a grouch. In what world is this a funny outcome? The cover does show a flying chicken. Apparently the illustrator had as much trouble with the stark reality of the ending as I did.

Reviews suggest that kids will find the story "hilarious." Really?

There is a fine line between cute-quirky and just plain weird.

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