In Defense of “Children’s Books”
December 21, 2010, 5:11 pm
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One of the more irritating tics that Smart People have is, once they decide they hate someone, they feel the need to criticize that person for everything he/she does or doesn’t do, on every front, at every conceivable opportunity. It’s the equivalent of the bratty, precocious but ignorant and ignorant-of-his-ignorance 11-year-old who just discovered talking-back to his parents and now suddenly always has to have the last word of an argument, even when he knows he’s lost. And ultimately, it traces to insecurity: at some point you have to ask yourself, what are their self-doubts that make them feel the need to do this?

Not a day goes by that I don’t see some news headline or opinion piece about Sarah Palin that takes the form of a ‘riposte’ or ‘debunking’ of something Sarah Palin did, said, didn’t say, thought, ate, wore, read, rode, etc., etc., etc. Hey um Palin critics: I get that you don’t like Palin. I really do. And it’s not like there can’t be valid reasons to not prefer Sarah Palin to be the next U.S. President. But please, get a fucking life, for pete’s sake. Not EVERYTHING that you see Palin, or a relative of Palin, or someone who doesn’t openly hate Palin, do or say needs to be immediately and tirelessly ‘debunked’ or answered or researched or critiqued. Especially since (according to you) she’s so ‘stupid’! How can such an easily-dismissable ‘stupid’ person simultaneously inspire such diligent reactionary panic and the need to spend hours and hours ‘fact-checking’, researching, and writing counterattacks and counterarguments?

Seriously: are you THAT fucking insecure?

The latest example comes from (noted Smart Person – hell, let’s face it, one of our most cherished Public Intellectuals) Joy Behar who, whatever else she is or was – and I really have no idea who she is or where she came from – is primarily known to the public as a longtime host Woman-Who-Sits-In-One-Of-The-Chairs-And-Gabs on that TV show “The View” that, for some reason, is still on the air. You gotta hand it to Smart women: they are so damn Smart that when it comes to opinions they all share “The” exact same View. When the opinions of tens of millions of individuals can be neatly summarized – with not only nary a protest from any of them, but instead with only a chorus of knowing nodding head-tilts and predictably-periodic trained-seal clapping – as “The” View, well hot damn, you just know you’re in the presence of The Smart!

Anyway, apparently Palin (who in totally serious journalistic inquiries is still being asked important questions such as what books she reads) cited C.S. Lewis as an author she liked, and Behar high-mindedly belittled her because they are “children’s books”. Palin defenders (such as at that Powerline post) are taking up the mantle by pointing out Lewis’s more adult work such as Mere Christianity and Screwtape Letters, but I’d like to hold the line a little further up the hill here:

The best “children’s books” are some of the best literature, and if you disagree, you are just a fucking illiterate MORON.

The Chronicles of Narnia series need not apologize for itself nor hide behind Mere Christianity. It is perfectly good and valid literature in its own right. You don’t think so? Pray tell, what else are you an ignorant, pedestrian ass about?

I say this as someone with ‘Smart’ credentials up the wazoo. Unlike Behar, I have a PhD, I have done postdoctoral research, I have written more Peer-Reviewed Academic Articles ™ than dumb broads like Joy Behar and those who agree with her and undoubtedly went “wooo!” and clapped at her dumb-ass “children’s books” comment do or ever will. So let me turn the tables and ask them to defend their dumb-ass position:

What the hell is wrong with “children’s books”? Are you so dumb that you can’t see their value, their legitimacy, as literature? Why are you so dumb then, the question becomes? In fact, scratch the other questions – this is my only real question – why are you so dumb? Let me know,

Footnote: Some of the “children’s books” and/or “young adult” books I have read (in many/most of these cases, re-read, obviously) in the near or somewhat recent past:

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

various by Robert Cormier (The Chocolate War, Tenderness, I Am The Cheese, After The First Death, etc., etc.)

Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater

King Dork & Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

various Dr. Seuss (Lorax, Horton Hears a Who which I practically had memorized at one point, etc)

The High King by Lloyd Alexander

various/all Salinger

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (does this count?)

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

and, in fact, I did read pretty recently:

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

(And many more I’m probably forgetting, or could add to the list if I extended the timeframe…)

Not all of these are great literature or cited as examples of same. They are just things I happened to read, among other (non-“children’s”) books I happened to read. So the hell what? In any case, none of these, I submit, are any worse or of lesser value than that ridiculous The Girl With.. series y’all are so obsessed with and spontaneously decided to all start reading simultaneously like lemmings. Further, some of these examples only serve to raise a new question: what are “children’s books” exactly? What precisely is the important distinction between “children’s” books and those that aren’t? Is there one? Is it a ‘smart’ one or a dumb one (like, ‘books with/about children as characters’)?

In any event, guess what. I apologize for precisely none of it. I am ’embarrassed’ about and feel the need to defend, hide from, or make excuses for exactly 0% of this list or anything else I’ve been reading or haven’t been reading. My answer for someone who would point out these are “children’s books” is: And? So? Your point? If you have one?

But go ahead, do tell, Smart People, what is your haughty Smart objective reason for dismissing “children’s books” and readers of “children’s books” exactly? If there is one. Because I deny there is one. But there sure are plenty of dumb reasons. Reasons that I guess make sense – if you’re a dumb-ass dummy. Like Joy Behar.

7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Sing it, Rhymes With (if I may call you Rhymes With).

Comment by robert61

I find it hard to take you seriously on this topic now that you’ve inadvertently revealed that you like children’s books. Your logic is obviously flawed, childish.

Comment by Anon

Hmm. Good point. Touche! ;-)

Comment by Sonic Charmer

Holes … not in your logic/reasoning/critical analysis.

Comment by Pastorius

Haven’t read it, but I liked the movie enough that I’m pretty sure the book is quite good.

Comment by Sonic Charmer

[…] Excellent fan-made video for the author-made theme song to one of my favorite children’s books. […]

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