Subversive Elements in Children’s Literature

Read a book 6,372 times in a year and minor details creep into your subconscious, fostering questions. How come you don’t say goodnight to the fly fishing rabbit? Why is the rabbit holding the net in mid cast? Why is he fishing for another rabbit? Is the illustrator promoting cannibalism?

Pointless research reveals it is shameless self promotion. The fly fishing rabbit painting in Goodnight Moon is from a scene in another book by the author and illustrator, Runaway Bunny.

Either way, I need to get out more.

9 thoughts on “Subversive Elements in Children’s Literature”

  1. Pete,

    Upon further review, it appears that you’re promoting a potentially dangerous book – per the NY Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/opinion/04karbo.html – Here are the recommended changes that need to be made;

    A. Huge gilt picture frames have no place in the nursery, especially those that are not properly secured. Should these three little bears sitting on chairs crash down during the night, Bunny risks suffering massive head trauma. Suggested change: digitally replace with piece of lightweight non-toxic fiber art.

    B. The blue stripes are adorable, but the reader has no way of knowing whether Bunny’s pj’s meet current flammability standards. Suggested change: digitally alter to include visible “flame resistant” label, in accordance with recommendations made by the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Digitally removing pj’s is not an option.

    C. Tell me this rug is not made of the skin of a Siberian tiger. Suggested change: Digitally remove to avoid appearance of condoning hunting of planet’s endangered species.

    D. How long has this bowl full of mush been sitting here? A single drop of sour milk contains more than 50 million potentially fatal bacteria. At the very least Bunny is in danger of contracting irritable bowel syndrome. Not to mention mush is low in fiber. Suggested change: Digitally remove.

    E. Balloons cause more choking deaths among 3- to 6-year-olds than any other toy. Suggested change: Digitally remove.

    F. Given proximity and brightness of stars and moon, it’s apparent that Bunny’s room is in a high rise. Both windows lack either locks or any type of window guard or restraining device. Suggested change: To avoid the appearance of encouraging children to peer out of unsafe windows, and thus tumble to their deaths, digitally remove windows. Bunny can easily bid goodnight to a moon painted on the wall with nontoxic, lead-free paint.

    G. Mice carry hantavirus, hemorrhagic fever, salmonella and Lyme disease. Suggested change: Digitally remove.

    H. A fire blazing in the fireplace while Bunny sleeps? Suggested change: Get rid of it. At the very least, digitally add a fire extinguisher to the wall. And hello? Where are the smoke detectors?

    I. The United States Fire Administration advises against using “alternative heating devices” like fires to dry clothing. Suggested change: Digitally move mittens and socks to other end of the room.

    J. Clearly the bookshelf is unanchored to the wall. If an earthquake hit, Bunny could get squashed flat. Suggested change: Digitally remove. We can’t see the titles on the spines of the books anyway, which might convey to children it’s all right to pick up any old book and read it.

    K. Who exactly is this rabbit? Bunny says, “A quiet old lady whispering hush?” But what do we know of her really? Suggested change: Digitally alter quiet old lady’s apron with a message emblazoned across the front that says she was hired from a reputable agency, is a citizen and has passed a criminal background check.

    L. Penetrating injuries to the chest by knitting needles are not uncommon. Also, someone could lose an eye. Suggested change: Digitally remove. The quiet old lady is not getting paid to knit, anyway.

  2. Both my kids were weaned on that. Strangely, I don’t think I ever had it read to me growing up. Maybe my parents were worried about negative influences.

    A time or two I’ve wondered about the net in the hand while casting too.

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