June 26, 2006

2006 Daddy Types Contest: Bizarre Children's Books

I got a copy of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel for Father's Day. it was a book I loved reading as a kid, and now I can read it with my kid. Of course, going through the first few pages made me marvel at how things have changed [Between sprawl and global warming, "It was Mike and Mary Anne and some others who flattened the hills to build our highways," sounds more like an indictment than a compliment.]

So when DT reader Kaz mentioned a couple of childrens books with unintentionally bizarre plots, I got to thinking it's high time for another Daddy Types Children's Book Review Contest: Bizarre children's books.

I'll pull together some prizes and details later, but the idea goes something this: you're reading along in a kid's book, when something happens that makes you step back and scratch your head and go, "huh??" It could be either a plot point, an unintended lesson the kids might be learning, or something just so anachronistic or off the wall, you cannot for the life of you figure out how it made it into print.

Just write a brief review or synopsis, then send it in, along with the book title, author, and a link to Amazon or your favorite online bookstore; if it's not wildly offensive, I'll post the entries here. [Be sure to include your own preferred credit/link info.] If you keep a blog or publish somewhere online, just send in the link.

So here are the first two entries, from Kaz, are about burying someone alive until they learn some humility, and encouraging kids to share their pants with others:

title:Henry and the Tunnel
author/illustrator: A W. Rev. Awdry

title: We Share Everything!
author/illustrator: Robert N. Munsch & Michael Martchenko

My daughter picked out the most bizarre Thomas book from the library last week.

The basic plot (I don't have it with me at work) is that there is this engine (not Thomas) who was afraid to leave his tunnel because it is raining, so the workers built a wall so he couldn't leave his tunnel. This made him sad. One of the other engines break down, so they remove the wall to see if he can pull the cars (sounds a little familiar). He does, and as a reward, he gets a new coat of paint.

Strangest plot I've ever read (after We Share Everything, featuring Jeremiah and Amanda, who learn to share in kindergarden by swapping shoes, then shirts, then pants).

[I read that sharing book at the library with the kid yesterday; it seems like it's mostly about dopey kindergarten teachers and boys never being allowed to wear pink. -ed.]


That Henry story is one of the episodes in heavy rotation on PBS. It just points out yet another bizarre fact about those wacky, accident-prone Sodor engines.

I'm not telling my husband about this contest. He's already ruined Bert's (Sesame Street) song "Doing the Pigeon" with an essay on what he's REALLY singing about. ("Awwwww.. I love it!")
I look forward to reading the entries though!

Ever heard of "The Five Queer Brothers"? The short version is that when a man is sentenced to be executed after accidentally murdering several people, his brothers each pretend to be him and use their peculiar abilities to survive attempted decapitation, drowning, being boiled alive, etc. The murderer eventually fakes his own death after the villagers attempt to smother him in a giant cream cake (I'm going on record as saying that's the way I want to go) and they all escape justice happily ever after.

My teacher read this to my class when I was 6. It was totally our favorite book in the class. Go figure.

[sounds like the redneck version of that 5 Chinese Brothers book -ed.]

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