April 24, 2006

ToddWorld. Excellent.

the_daddy_book.jpgThe price of liberty from primary colored tyranny is eternal vigilance. The battle over pink or blue pastels was nothing; that ends at the layette. The assault of bright red/yellow/blue plastic toys and gear and furniture goes on forever, usually until the only way to tell your living room apart from a Chick-fil-A playground is whether you can get into one on Sunday.

[Help! UrbanBaby's counsel just called, and they want their overexaggerated product introduction back. Any lawyer's out there?]

A close family friend got the kid Todd Parr's The Peace Book for her first birthday, but since it wasn't a boardbook, it was up on a different shelf and didn't make the regular rotation until fairly recently. Parr's bright, simple, smiley-face style belies a rather carefully crafted set of drawings and ideas.

Parr's message is relentlessly afffirming and upbeat. He talks simply and straightforwardly to kids, even throughout the dustjacket copy and all the text of his website. It's a sort of always-on, kids-are-my-audience Mr. Rogers quality, if Mr. Rogers were from Berkeley, and had an in with Oprah. [Oprah's chef has some original Todd Parr paintings in his kitchen.].

Parr assures kids they're alright and that the world's a better place with them in it, and there's no hiding the fact that that world includes adult politics. For Parr, Peace is a home and pizza enough for everyone, and it means keeping the water blue for all the fish. [Staunch fiscal conservatives who don't want the hassle of explaining that "honey, the market is the best solution to these kinds of problems, and if that bum in Oakland would just get a job, he could have all the pizza he wanted," should probably have the nannies read something else to the kids.] And his The Family Book gets heat sometimes for mentioning that "Sometimes there are two dads in a family." Which is either just the way things are or An Agenda, depending on your own POV [for the latter, Parr's reply of "but what about families with step-dads?" is either a nice save or a slick dodge.

todd_parr_boxster.gifEach book gives the sense of a Parrworld media empire a-brewin', but not a huge one. There's a TV show now, "Toddworld," which has been nominated for two Emmy awards. But he's still more focused on selling his paintings, than on licensing the hell out of his brand. [That said, the one-off table in his old studio would make a pretty cool addition to a minimalist nursery/playroom. Or maybe to daddy's office; I think the symbols translate as "I heart king-sized martinis."]

And Parr's big dream, it turns out, is owning a Quizno's. Perhaps the surest sign of the modesty of Parr's "do well by doing good" ambitions is this painting of a car: it's just a Boxster. And it's available for only $2,500.

Buy Todd Parr books like The Peace Book, The Daddy Book, The Family Bookand Underwear Do's and Don'ts on Amazon [amazon]

Todd Parr
and his blog [toddparr.com]
Toddworld the TV show [toddworld.tv]

3 Comments

We have the "It's Okay" board book, and my daughter likes it alot. Although I have to question the "it's okay to put fish in your hair" page...

[that's very unaccepting and intolerant of you. -ed.]

I love the Todd Parr books. Someone gave us the non-board version of "It's OK to be Different" as a gift, and it was the only book that soothed our daughter until about 6 months. The colors, size of characters, and simple drawings really captured her attention. Later on, she read it so much she thought that every book ended with "Love Todd," and at 20 months, she still once in a while signs off books with a "love todd" when she is finished.

By the way, considering the outrage over the two-Mommy/Daddy dimension, I am surprised that more people aren't outraged by the rainbow colored (read: gay) zebra in "It's OK to be Different."

[two words: Elmer. OK, so I've only got one word. -ed.]

We love Funny Faces by Todd Parr. It's a really small board book, which ads to it's charm.

Greg, you should bust out all the non-board books if you've been hiding them. They provide more independent reading time from Julian than I ever imagined was possible. The intrigue of paper, I guess.

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