Parent's beware

There is a children’s book just published called “The Higher Power of Lucky” by Susan Patron which, to me, has a disturbing first chapter. The little girl, listening to a recovery group, hears all about problems recovering (insert smokers, alcoholics, or over-eaters here)have to face. While listening, she hears about a snake biting a dog’s scrotum.

An outraged librarian has a huge problem with this book. She has received a huge amount of flack about her outrage, too.
This is like the R rating back in the 70s. R-rating back then is like PG-13 today. That book would never have been written for children in the 70s or 80s. It could only make it today.

The subject matter in that first chapter should be above a 10 year old’s head, but unfortunately it isn’t. This is the age of that cartoon character smarty Bart Simpson and King of the Hill and other such stuff that shows on Saturday mornings, which I had no idea had gotten so suggestive until I watched them with my step-granddaughter.

I’m on the outraged librarian’s side. If my 10 year old brought that book home in 1987, I would have called the school up and rocked the principal on her heels (using lady-like language, of course). If my step-granddaughter were to have brought that book home in 2000, I would have rocked the school’s librarian and the principal after first carefully explaining to my step-daughter why it was so upsetting–because, gasp, she wouldn’t know why.

It isn’t a children’s book subject matter. The first chapter incites interest in seeing a part of male anatomy simply because the protag is interested in seeing one–or not. Come on. Why is that even necessary in a children’s book?
These days, some children have to be worried about divorce, alcoholism, abuse among other things, because some parents seem to be indulging in a lack of self-control. Why do author’s of children’s fiction capitalize on the seamier side of life? I pray this isn’t the beginning of a trend.

I have never been an advocate of parent’s being responsible for the actions of their children. Now, I’m beginning to rethink that stance. It is a parent’s responsibility to be the kind of exemplary examples that will help their children’t to grow up to be pillars of society.

I am deeply disappointed that children grow up so fast these days. There’s no protection for them anymore.
They are exposed to things that make me shudder as an adult. TV shows, violent games, and stories where the end justifies the means are giving children the wrong ideas about what is right and what is wrong, if their parents are not diligent about what goes into little eyes and young minds.

It is so sad that a children’s book author has to write a story about 12-step programs inspiring a child to look for the Higher Power. There’s a word for that, but it may be too strong a word for “worldly sensitive” ears. I’ll say it anyway. Rubbish.
What is wrong with a children’s librarian wanting good books with good subject matter?

In this world of ours, have we become so jaded that we think children can’t be interested in stories like Beatrice Potter wrote? Or Joan Aiken? Or even Phyllis Whitney? Or must we all succumb to the spell of J.K. Howling?
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