Saturday, February 26, 2011
City kids, country kids, and books
I'm a big Mo Willems fan, and was delighted to be asked to read Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. In case you haven't read it: The heroine wakes up in the night and realizes that she has the WRONG KNUFFLE BUNNY. It's 2.30 in the morning, but her parents are about to call the other child's parents when BRNNG! BRNGG! The phone rings.
It's the other parents, calling to say THEIR child has the wrong knuffle bunny.
A dramatic exchange follows, with both sets of parents and their children rushing out into the night to return the knuffle bunnies to their rightful owners.
The child to whom I was reading (4) accepted all this as a matter of course, but I was horrified. Is this how parents are now? WIth some trepidation, I asked the parents if THEY would call someone up at 2.30 a.m. to exchange stuffed animals.
"Absolutely not," the mother said firmly. She said she too had been appalled.
But -- we live in a small, gossipy town, you call someone at 2.30 in the morning, the whole town is going to hear about it. Many will make comments ("Can you believe what a spoiled brat that _____ kid is? His parents called the _____s at 2.30 in the morning to get back a stuffed animal!").
The parents in the book lived in NY. Maybe there, this is exactly how parents, or some parents, would react. Or maybe Mo is just presenting things the way to a child, they OUGHT to be and of course, are. In the book.
I don't know -- but whatever the right answer to THAT is, I do know kids are raised differently in different parts of the country (Grace and I were talking about this, since she'd just come back from a visit to Mississippi).....and maybe the more interesting question is if hip urban children are over-represented in kids' books. Most editors do not after all live way out in the country, where not so many kids are hip.