20 February 2007

Children's Book Author Needs to Tighten Up

Is this for real? Seriously? Do people think that when you put the word "Scrotum" in a children's picture book, that the children's book reading public will applaud your ability to push the boundaries? I mean look, I am all for demystifying sex for children, but let's be real here. The country is still a little "Red" now, and there is no way that teachers/parents/librarians are going to support a book that talks about scrotum regardless of the importance of said scrotum because above all else, it's uncomfortable for the teachers/parents.

Let's just all think about our 2nd grade teacher for a second. Mine was Mrs. Pearson, and she was a craggy old child hater. I cannot for the life of me, envision the word "Scrotum" oozing from her be-mustached mouth.

Do you, kind reader, want to read a book to a child and have that child utter the blood chilling phrase, "What's a scrotum?" Didn't think so. Save the awkwardness for the Teenage Wasteland years.
Children's Book Author Susan Patron: Tighten Up.


Jordan said...

On the contrary - Becca, you need to loosen up . . . the childrens need to learn about scrotums eventually.

Chris said...

as a staunch opponent of censorship and prudery, i must agree with The Becca here. while i think banning the book is stupid and silly, so is blithely tossing the word "scrotum" in a kids book (not to mention mentally-scarring to all the little boys who will never be able to listen to a baby rattle or maraca without grabbing their crotch and fleeing).

tighten your shit up, author-lady, and leave the sex ed to internet porn.

The Becca said...

True words, Jordan, but let's not ignore the importance of the dollar. Who the fuck will buy the 100,000 children's scrotum books sitting in surplus? I'll tell you: Perverts. The only market where this book will be successful is the pervert market. Luckily, that's a good market to be in.
But seriously, usually controversial items sell. Look at how controversy has helped to act as a boon for so many people and products. The difference here, is that the controversy leads to the purchaser having to explain sexual anatomy to kids.
And discomfort never sells. Unless you're into S&M (and I don't mean Sales and Marketing).

mandy said...

Thanks for linking to this article, Becca. I'm a little conflicted. I'm gonna have to agree with you and Chris -- Patron needs to lock it down, but certainly should not be censored. How about not putting the "scrotum" reference on the first page?? Or saving it for the 10-12 year-old reader? But let's be honest, this passage is hilarious:

Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much... It sounded medical and secret, but also important.

I mean, why not mention "esophagus" or "medulla oblongata" instead -- those both sound medical, secret and also important. I guess it's harder to get a figurative rattlesnake to bite a figurative oblongata, though. A woman I work with said, "where was her editor?" "On-board," I replied. They're both in need of some tightening up.

Jordan said...

I don't understand . . . this book is somehow acceptible for an audience of children 4-8, yet a book with the anotomically correct word "scrotum" is not ok for kids 9-12? In addition to being a hilarious word, scrotum describes an innately hilarious thing. That makes it fair game for children's lit on both counts.

I think we all need to tighten our thinking up.

The Becca said...

I thought for sure you were going to reference Everybody Poops.

What I will say about the Boobs Book, is that it didn't win a Newberry Award which legitimizes the book as highly appropriate for use in school.

Chris said...

jordan: agreed; the book is not called "the higher power of scrotum" and doesn't have a drawing of a large sack on the cover. (...sequel?) but the "breasts" book you refer to didn't win a newbery award and isn't being distributed to libraries across the country.

i would assume the puritanical librarians (who have probably never seen a scrotum up close and personal) are most upset that the book looks all sweet and innocent on the cover, only to slap them across the face with the scrote reference on the very first page. it's a tad deceiving, jordan, particularly with a newbery medal attached.

nevertheless, those librarians need to tighten their shit up as well; no one's forcing you say "scrotum" in front of your students, so just leave the book in the library for them to snicker at instead. (teachers can still partake in class readings during sunday bible study, where kids can learn all about sodomy, bestiality, menstruation, public stonings, and the wretchedness of shellfish consumption.)

Chris said...

ha ha, becca poops!

Chris said...

(so does my little cousin)

mandy said...

In addition to being a hilarious word, scrotum describes an innately hilarious thing. That makes it fair game for children's lit on both counts.

I totally agree with you, Jordan. I just can't help imagining that I'm reading this book, with a handful of enraptured pre-teens gathered 'round, and suddenly I'm asked to describe a scrotum. Now, while a fairly innocuous conversation, I have nightmares of all the doofed-up parents who will go after said teacher/aid/librarian/story-time enthusiast for telling their children the truth about a subject they might be too afraid to broach. So while the most of me says, "F'em! Their kids deserve to find out this way!", the other part of me says, "boy, it would just not be worth the headache."

Minna said...

i'm pretty sure the author lady just got a kick out of a)typing the word out b)getting editors over at simon & schuster to sign off on printing it c) winning the newberry medal in spite of it and d)forcing librarians all over the country to say it, over and over again. she's probably been giggling to herself all week.