Curious George and other bad boys of kids' lit
I was surprised by a discussion among moms I know about Curious George, the classic tale of the misbehaving monkey. One mom was adamant that they are bad books to read to your kids because he not only misbehaves all the time, he never gets punished.
Heresy! How can anyone not love the kind man in the yellow hat and the monkey who drives him crazy? Then I remembered how the Froggy books (as in Froggy Gets Dressed, Froggy Plays Soccer, Froggy Eats Out) annoyed me and my co-blogger here Sherry when our kids were young. You'd have to read those books and then have a talk about why Froggy is behaving really badly, throwing food around the restaurant. It did kind of bother us that Froggy seems to get rewarded for not being on his best behavior at the restaurant and gets taken out of there and to go get a burger and "french flies" (Though I admit I thought that was kind of funny),
I've heard the same complaints made about the Junie B. Jones series. That she uses poor grammar and misbehaves. Personally I love Junie B., and even think I was a tad like her. But humor goes a long way with me, so I will forgive the bad behavior when you have a great title like Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus. It's why I didn't hesitate to buy the whole Captain Underpants series, including the Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy.
Sure the characters in some kids' lit are annoying -- bratty even. But in the end, isn't that what books are, fantasies? To a kid, this is funny stuff. When we read Curious George I love how my kid says "Uh oh," when he does something bad. I think it's good that my kid recognizes bad behavior and knows something bad (and funny) will happen as a result. Both of them read and loved George, Froggy, Capt. Underpants and Junie B. and they haven't held up a liquor store yet, so I think we're OK.
I just wonder if there really are parents out there who insist that all the characters children's literature be pure and perfect. That must be a pretty boring reading list.
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne