Monday, October 12, 2009

They Really Aren't For Us

I can sympathize with author Daniel B. Smith, in his article The Very Grouchy Daddy in Slate. Eric Carle's books don't have a lot of "narrative creativity." They weren't read a lot at Chez Gauthier, because the mom here needed more story. We went to things like Curious George just as fast as we could.

But I can't agree with him that the task of children's authors is to "entertain, educate, stimulate the imagination of, etc., the parent" as well as the child and that "lesser writers...serve only the child."

Entertaining, educating, and stimulating the imagination of parents is a marketing ploy. Parents are gatekeepers for young, nonreading children. They have all the money. Authors and publishers may well want to entertain, educate, and stimulate them for that practical reason.

But your gutsiest children's writers serve only one master--their child readers. If adults, like myself, don't get their books, that's just tough. Is Eric Carle milking a monotonous, winning formula for all it's worth? Maybe. Maybe even probably. But the fact that adults like myself don't care for that formula is meaningless. He writes for children--or he should be writing for them--and not for us.

3 comments:

Kate said...

I've always considered an adult level to a picture book to be gravy -- a lovely addition, but not essential, especially in a book aimed at toddlers.

I think that basically, Mr. Smith is saying that he is not a two and a half year old. But we already knew that. If I were his wife, I would recommend that he screen the video that Carle made about his creative process -- it certainly increased my respect for him.

tanita davis said...

Interesting that you're basically having the same discussion as Liz is having at Tea Cozy, except about picture books, which seems a lot more cut and dried to me.

As a sibling who did a lot of dreary reading of picture books to small fry, I KNOW they're not for me. And I don't want them to be. They're placeholders to get the Littles excited about words 'til they can read them themselves. I can read to myself on my own time.

gail said...

I have 70+ posts to read at my blog reader, and that's just the kidlit blogs. I have two other categories of blogs I follow, and I think I have around 275 posts to read with those two. It could be weeks before I get to that particular post at Tea Cozy. Yeah, I know you left me a link, and I could read out of order, but I'm too linear to do that. Something dreadful will happen if I jump ahead.