Friday, January 16, 2009

Patricia T. Bunny

This book stinks.

No, really. I mean it: it smells.

Sure, it's a classic, but it reeks. Also, frankly, I am not sure why it's a classic, because I find it to be a bit dictatorial.

I guess it's supposed to be tactile and educational for the child, and they probably don't care that they are being yelled at and ordered around by the text, but I find it to be quite off-putting. It centers around the simplistic actions of "Paul" and "Judy," small children who "can do lots of things." Apparently, expectations in the 1930's were mildly lower than they are today. There is peek-a-boo, mirror gazing, feeling daddy's scratchy face, and putting your finger through mummy's ring. All very challenging. Each task starts with "Judy" and "Paul" showing us, the interested viewer, how to execute the task, and then the following page allows us to attempt the task. Rather, we are ordered to complete the task:

"Judy can play peek-a-boo with Paul.

Now YOU play peek-a-boo with Paul."

The "or else" is merely implied.

The first task is the activity that lends itself to the title: "Now YOU pat the bunny." Of course, the title could be taken to mean that this book is, in fact, about a character named "Pat," or "Pat (comma) the Bunny." Perhaps I would have enjoyed this read more were that actually the case, as my mother believed when first confronted with this book. Children are also encouraged too read "Judy's" book, which is a bonus story about a bunny who we will call "Pat." "Pat" listens to a clock tick, shows us how big she is, eats his good supper, and falls asleep.

"Pat" is clearly as accomplished as the human children, if not more so.

It's a laugh a minute.

The "smelling the flowers" activity creates the stinky quality of the story. Whatever they used to make the flowers smell Really. Smells. Pete can't smell it, but I can barely handle the book, it's so overwhelming. And it does not smell like flowers. Not at all. I don't know how "Paul" can stand to do it, though he is a bit far away from them, looks quite tentative, and is holding his ass with one hand. I'm not sure what that all means, but it can't be good. Once our little narcissist is finished looking in the little freakshow circus mirror, I suppose that levels of meaning go right out the window. Daddy's scratchy face is also a black patch of tar on his otherwise lilywhite complexion, but we won't talk about that.

Oh yeah. "Judy" and "Paul" also wave bye bye.

Little geniuses.


C K McCauley said...

I have also found that many things treasured and identified as "vintage" or "classic" are justifiably better off labeled "outdated" or "old and smelly." These items are best sold on craigs list to the collectors of such things who seem ever delighted to part with their money.

Anonymous said...

Also... Daddy's scratchy face? Yuk.