Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Literary Offensives

It's hard to write about this topic without coming off like an arrogant, pompous kind of mom (you know the type.) But after noticing this a few times and even discussing it with a few relatives who have noticed it too, I've decided something must be said.
I am so irritated and disappointed with the incorrect grammar and punctuation slipping into children's literature.
There.
It's out.
Is this the part where I yell at those kids to get off my lawn?
Now that I have set myself up for scrutiny - as I'm sure my posts are riddled with misspellings and grammar whatnots - I would like to point out these posts are causal and not meant for teaching children to read.
On the contrary, Jackson's latest favorite, Speedy the Fire Truck, is a great Wheelie book he thoroughly enjoys.
Meaning we've read it a brazillian times.
It's got everything.
Plenty of fiery action, handsome firemen, rhyming phrases, large spinning wheels, a cat, etc.
And it all ends with a giant, glaring error.
The big finish:
"There's no one speedier than me!"
Nice.
Thanks, Speedy. For teaching my kid how to speak incorrectly while saving lives.
I decided to put out the grammatical fire by dousing it with my big, black sharpie.
I've got a few more kid-lit issues.
Securely holding its place in Jackson's top 5 faves, is the book Jack Truck:

You can clearly see why it ranks so highly with the boy.
However, as the book goes on to describe Jack Truck's pals, it mentions the merits of Dump Truck Dan, Cement Mixer Melvin, Monster Truck Max and Pay Loader Pete.
However (and here's where I really start to sound obnoxious) the only real female character is a pink garbage truck named Gabriella.
And the only trait she happens to have?
Talking. She talks a lot.
The book goes on:
"Gabriella loves talking ... She is still talking."
I feel like the author was going through a rough divorce when he penned this tome.
It just so happens, I leave that little gem out when reading the bedtime tale and sprinkle in some of Gabby's finer traits.
So, can you handle one more kid-lit concern before you ride your bike through my prize-winning begonias?
In a similar vein, Jack also enjoys Baby on the Go, which describes a variety of transportation. At the end of the tale, there are photos of those in various trades such as: police, fire, construction and space travel.
All men.
Every single one of them.
Now I am no fool and I realize that the majority of these fields employ mostly men.
But how about just one?
Can't I have just one little space lady?
A cute fire chick so that the boy grows up with just maybe one less stereotype?
Something besides a female-oriented garbage truck?

...Well, I'm off to shake my grumpy cane at some suspicious hoodlums selling lemonade on the corner....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

So true, all of it and more. You can keep making the changes and by the time he can read for himself, he'll know better.

Anonymous said...

Wait! a "cute fire chick" is not a stereotype? Um....little bit of thin ice in this one I'm afriad.

Just being the devil's advocate here, because in my heart I totally agree with you. Children's books should be carefully scrutinized for grammatical errors before they are published. In fact I would like to see ALL books, and in fact All WORDS IN PRINT, carefully edited for all mechanical errors, whether in book form or just spouted off on the internet. But I'm a purist.

I also have pet peeves. I deplore the current use of nominative case pronouns where objective case pronouns belong, and vice versa. How many times does one hear a person say, "Elsie did that for John and I," simply because it sounds more grammatical to an uneducated ear? Far too often, and even by one's friends.(Sentence fragment, BTW) Another pet peeve of mine is the incorrect use of apostrophes. Simply NO ONE seems to know the rules governing apostrophe usage. Sad.

On the other hand,(Here is the devil's advocate part.)English is a living language. In my very long life I have seen the rules change more than once simply because of incorrect usage. When I was in grammar school, eons ago, there was no such word as "gotten." No one had gotten old or fat or ugly. People had got old. No person could ever be hung. Human beings were hanged. These were the rules. There were many more, but that doesn't matter because those old rules are no longer common knowledge or common usage. No one speaks according to those rules, which means that eventually no one writes according to those rules.

What thinkest thou? Mine heart doth ache to speak thus. One does so desperately hope that perhaps we can hang on to those nominative case pronouns in the noun spot, and those objective case pronouns in the object spot, and those possessive case pronouns, without apostrophes, for just one more generation! Well, I do.

Anonymous said...

P.S. A distinction may be made between children's books that are intended merely for pleasure reading and those that are intended to be "teaching" reading. Not sure where Jack's literature falls between the two, but generally colloquial usage is acceptable for non-instructional publications.