The Top 5 Inappropriate Lines in Children’s Books

As a parent, I read a lot of children’s books.  We read stories at bedtime; we read stories during the day.  Our house is full of picture books.  Yeah, some of them are a little trite and obnoxious, and you expect that so it’s fine.  But then there are the times when you almost can’t get through a page with a straight face.  Seriously, what were these people thinking!?  I mean, I know kids won’t get it, but c’mon people!  Taken out of context, or sometimes even IN context, these just seem inappropriate to me.

#5 – What Floats, by Julie Aigner-Clark and Nadeem Zaidi

Where did that bubble come from?  Why are there no other bubbles, and the only one that has appeared is floating next to that kid?  I think we know the answer.

#4 – One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss

Oh, Dr. Seuss, you are full of silliness and wackiness.  And creepy old drunk guys apparently.  It’s true that you do go on to say on the next page that he is drinking ink, but is that really any better?  If I were a kid, I would not want sleazy Uncle Yink looking at me like that during story time.  He likes to wink AND drink!  Fun!

#3 – Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss

And Dr. Seuss shows up again.  This whole book could really be taken out of context inappropriately, but the page I can’t get through without snickering is “Would you, could you, in the dark?”

#2 – The Story of Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff
This one is going to take some explaining.  You know Babar, right?  He has a cute TV show, and tons of books about him.  I thought I remembered him too, until I actually sat down with the original book at bedtime one night.  The basic story is this: Babar runs away after his mother is killed by hunters and moves to the city, where he buys clothes and starts smoking.  Then, after the elephant king dies, he goes home and claims the throne for himself on the basis of his new suit and tobacco addiction.

This is all well and good, but the little subplot in there is what really freaks me out.  First, the reason they find Babar in the city in the first place is because his two little cousins run away and discover him.  See?

“Why,” he says in astonishment to the Old Lady, “it’s Arthur and Celeste, my little cousins!”  So we have established that these elephants are Babar’s cousins.  And they are little.  How little, you may ask?  Well, here is a picture of them being scolded by their parents (Babar’s aunt and uncle) for running off, after they have found Babar.

They are quite young.  And they are Babar’s cousins.  I cannot stress this enough, because check out what happens next…

Babar has somehow or other managed to “become engaged” to his eight year old cousin on the car ride home!  I don’t know how they do it where Jean de Brunhoff is from, but to me that is not appropriate.

#1 – Snow, by Roy McKee and P.D. Eastman
And so we arrive at the number one, most inappropriate line in children’s literature.  This one I cannot read with a straight face, no matter how hard I try.  And the illustration does not help.

Really?  That’s the line you want to write for the kiddos?  “Do you like it in your face?  Yes, I like it any place!”  Seriously!?

So to all future children’s authors out there.  Please, think about what you are writing.  I don’t care if the kids don’t get it.  We parents have to read this stuff, and the children will eventually want to know why we are smirking.

Posted in Books, Parenting.

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