Too Early To Call Worst Children’s Book of the Year?

Not that you ought to come to me for all matters children’s book, but I can’t help this one.

Where the Mild Things Are: A Very Meek Parody didn’t snag my attention until I saw I had to shelve it in the children’s section. Normally, spoofs of kids’ books (Goodnight Bush, Pat the Husband, etc.), which often rely on grown-up social or political gags, go in the adult humor section because kindergartners are famously unappreciative of satire. This is not the fare that’s enjoyed by both children and adults, who would merely be in on a joke. The people who gave “Maurice Send-up” the green light don’t know this.

Mommy, who the hell are these people?

Mommy, who the hell are these people?

So in this version, you have not Max but Mog, a pipsqueak monster in a rabbit suit who drives to Dullsville (in a Gremlin! See… c’mon, these are the jokes kid). There he encounters its four denizens who each uncannily resemble Bill Gates, Al Gore, Martha Stewart, and Jay Leno—all public figures ripe for satire cerca 1997. Mog is welcomed by the lot of them and participates in all the boring things they do, like experimenting with alternate light bulbs. You see, they do boring things!

The centerpiece is a pictorial montage riffing the one from the original Where the Wild Things Are. One of the illustrations has Mog raising his hand in a classroom where Bill Gates has gleefully written on his blackboard “Computers: Fun with Binary Code.”

HEY-ohhhhhh!

If you think that’s funny then I’ve got a Bad Cat book to sell you.

Not convinced it’s supposed to be for kids? Neither was I until I saw it was published by the children’s arm of Simon and Schuster, who even include a URL on the back of the book where children can “get activities” related to the book. The odd thing is that I had a hard time finding details on Mild Things online. I can’t get it to surface when I search it on Simon and Schuster’s very Web site (Interesting… disownment? Disavowal?). All that’s worth telling here is that the book is stunningly bad and its marketing was surely directed by a collision of dodos.

But I could be wrong. Perhaps, one fine day, a six-year-old will come into my store with his mother, and the mother will say to me, “Hi, my son’s looking to see if you have a certain book. He heard about it on NPR today—what show was it, Corey? All Things Considered? No? Oh, Fresh Air. He heard about it on Fresh Air and said it was a parody of Where the Wild Things Are with Bill Gates in it. Do you have that? Wonderful! Oh, and he’d also like to know where you keep Captain Underpants.”

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2 thoughts on “Too Early To Call Worst Children’s Book of the Year?

  1. Pingback: Where the Parodies Are « 100 Scope Notes

  2. I read this a few weeks ago and amazingly found it both stale AND half-baked, with a resounding side of meh. Quite an accomplishment. Who on earth thought kids would get it?

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