Fuse #8

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ooo, Goody! Sadism of the Poetic Variety!

When someone entitles an article No Nightmares, Please: Why is so much children's poetry full of sadism and doom?, a person has a right to be suspicious. But author Jeff Gordinier has a good head on his shoulders and a pound of wit to boot. He never discusses children's poetry accurately, of course. I mean, he complains that reading adult poems to kids is problematic and then cites rhyming picture books that don't quite constitute "poetry" per say. No mention of Jack Gantos or Jack Prelutsky, or Nikki Grimes here and that's a pity.

But I do give him points for taking down The Lorax. That there's a book which left me a shaking shivering hollow shell of a seven-year-old after I watched the bizarre cartoon of it years and years ago. Oh! And he seriously does not like The Giving Tree either! Fabulous!
At the end of The Giving Tree, the “boy” has become a wrinkled, whiny, soulless husk, and there is nothing left of the tree, so the boy sits down on the stump to rest his arthritic joints. The end!

You know what? Screw that. I’d rather read Tropic of Cancer to my kid than take another spin through The Giving Tree. At least Henry Miller seemed to be having a little fun.
Sock it to 'em, Gordinier! He even ends with praise for Poetry Speaks To Children. So while he doesn't discuss any actual children's poets seriously (and of all of Silverstein's work, TGT is unfair to single out) at least he gets a couple interesting jabs in.

Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the link.


At 12:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chiming in a bit late here. But what's worse: The Lorax or this year's complete absence of winter? 35 years later, Seuss' predictions of doom seem, if anything, understated. And we certainly can't protect kids any more. The papers are full of polar bears searching for food, ice masses breaking off, habitats disappearing faster than we can say "poof." It may be traumatizing, but the world we live in, destroyed by greed, is far worse, and kids need to know about it.
As for The Giving Tree, I despise it.

At 2:11 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Oh, I'm not saying The Lorax is bad. Just that it still kills me. You're right about the weather. I was walking out in 70 degree weather yesterday, and none of the New Yorkers I passed were looking pleased. Everyone has a look on their face like they're about to get shot. We know that this is wrong, so the pleasant weather is just making us jumpy.

At 6:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, I could kiss you right on the lips. You are so right! G's response to the Lorax is simply irresponsible; he can't just make up a pretend world for his daughter to live in. Or he could, but if he wants to do that, he would be better off with a pretend daughter, because a real one can't help but encounter the difficult aspects of our world and she deserves help in making sense of them. So, Fuse, I love that the book still affects you, but I don't think this man should be "give(n)..points for taking down The Lorax".

At 7:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yikes, so we should put the weight of the eroding environment on little bitty shoulders? I concur with the witty Mr. G. Add to that, I have always loated The Giving Tree almost as much as I loathe Freddie the Leaf being given to anyone grieving or The Rainbow Fish which I like to refer to as The Rainbow Fish aka Communist Manifesto.

At 9:30 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Since I'm married to a Communist, I don't see Rainbow Fish in that light exactly. It's more insidious than that. Or maybe it's something simpler. After all, what we're talking about is a story wherein the protagonist bodily rips off portions of his anatomy to fit in better. A scholar could go any and all directions with that one.


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