August 11, 2009

The Original Mythbuster

Dear Astrid Lindgren,

You are (or were because Wikipedia tells me that you're now very dead) a world renowned children's book author. You have been translated into 95 languages and sold over 145 million copies of your books. And for some reason, up until now I'd never heard of you. And it could have stayed that way.

Earlier in the week, Mia went to the library to pick out books. She returned with a copy of your Lotta's Easter Surprise. That evening, Mia and I sat down to read it. It was fairly insipid, boring, populated with whiny characters and had a slightly depressing atmosphere about it. Luckily, Mia got bored after a few pages. Beth had better - or worse, depending on how you look at it - luck. She made it through to the end. And she was more than a little surprised when, two pages from the conclusion, you attempted to blow my child's belief system out of the water.

There, in black and white, shittily illustrated, was the revelation that Santa doesn't exist. Worse (yes, it can get worse), you took the Easter Bunny down with him.

Luckily, Beth was reading ever so slightly ahead and was able to maneuver quickly around these landmines. Mia was none the wiser.

Question - why did you feel it was necessary to fuck with my child's belief system, especially in so unassuming a manner? And shouldn't a book containing said revelation come with a big-ass warning sticker on the front that says something like DANGER: This Book Will Fuck Your Kid Up And Make Him Cry And He'll Never Believe Another Word You Say, Especially That Thing About Uncle Phil Moving To The Farm In A Remote Part Of Western Canada That Oddly Has No Phone or Mailing Address.

Word of warning to you parents out there - Astrid Lindgren is not to be trusted. And with all those books still in print, who knows what else she's revealed? The Tooth Fairy? Monsters in the closet? The Kennedy Assassination? Mom and dad's horizontal dancing sessions in the bedroom? Is nothing sacred?!

Warm regards from the right side of the dirt,
Chris

Posted by Chris at August 11, 2009 7:35 AM
Comments

Oh, so sorry to hear that! Note to self: always read ahead when reading to kids.

But honestly, you had never heard of her? I mean, she even has her own themepark! http://www.astridlindgrensworld.com/pages/startsida_2009.asp?Lang=eng&sida=Ettan&language=en

Don't give up on her yet though, she wrote some amazing stuff! Especially Pippi longstockings is brilliant!

Just you know, keep reading ahead..


Posted by: mikkie at August 11, 2009 7:53 AM

Well doesn't that just suck, suck, suck!
She better not come to NH, cause we will hunt her down!

Posted by: Maribeth at August 11, 2009 8:01 AM

Am cracking up -- not because of how Mia's belief system was almost effed up, but because of how unassuming the rest of the book was. Now I kind of want to read it, if only to see how she gets from slightly depressing, boring book about Easter to HEY KIDS THERE AIN'T NO SANTA.

Also, I love how mean you are about it. I guess you'll have to read ahead from now on before reading to Mia.

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 11, 2009 8:54 AM

"Wrestling" Chris. "Wrestling". Then you have to wait for the day you have to explain why Dad is always winning.

I agree with mikkie, you'll appreciate Astrid a little later when Mia disappears for hours to read Pippi Longstocking. I had not heard of this other bummer.

Posted by: harmzie at August 11, 2009 8:55 AM

Kay sorry funny only because this happened to us recently as well. I was reading a Beverly Cleary book to Matthew recently and I was not closely paying attention or reading ahead as I normally would and LO I totally read about how the tooth fairy is not real to my son. Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing for future reference.

I stumbled over the words as I realized what I was reading and I do not think he got it but he has suddenly started talking about how when he loses a tooth he will get $ from the tooth fairy and then he will look at me knowingly SO I think I failed... Oops...

Posted by: Christina at August 11, 2009 9:23 AM

Wow, I didn't expect that of Pippi's creator! Sad.

Posted by: Julie at August 11, 2009 9:29 AM

Pippi Longstockings was one of my heroes when I was a kid, along with Dr. Doolittle. Both of which are waiting patiently on a shelf for my kids to be able to sit still long enough for me to read the books to them. So Pippi is awesome, but the other? that totally sucks! I agree that books of that nature should come with bold parental warnings!

On a slightly different note, this book is awesome for explaining Santa to kids who are too smart for their own good: http://www.amazon.com/Santa-Really-Works-Alan-Snow/dp/1416950001/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1249998514&sr=8-1

Highly recommend it!

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 11, 2009 9:50 AM

I had the same issues when reading "Brave New World" to my son. There really needs to be disclaimers in these books.

Posted by: Jon (was) in Michigan at August 11, 2009 10:12 AM

Yikes! The Pippi Longstocking books, however, were my favorite books ever as a child and I don't seem to have been too damaged by them. Too damaged. ;)

Posted by: Hope at August 11, 2009 10:43 AM

Wow! That sucks!

My kids are at an age they are asking, escpecially since the tooth fairy failed to show up last night.

This is my standard response. "As long as you belive (insert character here) will still come."

Yep, thats how I get out of the squirmy questions. I believed Santa would come right up til the day, He began coming for the kids.

Posted by: debb at August 11, 2009 10:45 AM

i'm a little disenchanted with a lot of so-called classic children's books right now. my husband and i hate how they introduce things as scary that a kid would never even have thought of on their own and then at some point we are going to have to backpedal to convince them that those things are not actually scary. you've said it before: sleeping beauty is told by a witch that later turns into a scary dragon that she will prick her finger and DIE. then she's saved by a prince, who kills the dragon, and gets married by sixteen. little wombat falls in the water and almost DROWNS until the platypus teaches him how to swim. blankie makes so-and-so not AFRAID of the dark. cruela deville drives off a cliff at the end of 101 dalmations. peter pan feeds captain hook (who is scary enough) to a crocodile. even the madeline books say some weird things. and on and on. so now that lola has been given all of these books (by other people), and loves them, we are going to have to deal with it. there are still some images from some of my own little golden books that are scorched into my brain just from reading them as a child. i still get the same upset feeling i used to get thinking of seeing the picture of a little bird falling out of the sky in one book. i remember scary faces in others. etcetera.
i know i sound all crazy. like, who could deprive their child of sleeping beauty?! but i really am tempted to just put them away. i'm not talking about sheltering my kids from ideas or images necessarily. i'm talking about introducing all things in positive ways. i want all of lola's first ideas about things like water and crocodiles and darkness and even princesses to be positive. and then we'll get to the bad stuff later...

Posted by: kati at August 11, 2009 11:05 AM

I really recommend that parents preview the movies/books before they let the little kids at 'em. When Jake was in Kindergarten he brought home The Amazing Bone.

In it, a young pig finds a magic bone that yells when..robbers mug her and put a gun to her head, then she is forced into a stranger's house and is cowering on the floor. It's a pretty graphic description of how the fox plans to kill and eat the pig.

Creepy. Weird. Not what I would read to Jake at ALL.

But hey, if you need any book recommendations I can give you TONS.

Posted by: Scattered Mom at August 11, 2009 11:14 AM

Um...oh, and Chris?

Kids who are really smart tend to figure out the Santa thing pretty early. Just sayin. :P They may play along for your sake, but they will KNOW.

I know, I know. Kills the fun for us grown ups, huh?

Posted by: Scattered Mom at August 11, 2009 11:19 AM

Don't worry. She probably wouldn't believe you anyway. My husband doesn't believe in telling the kids lies...blah, blah, blah. So they have been told the truth from the beginning. But they don't believe us. Everyone ELSE says he's real, and apparently, they know more than us. My kid is 5. And she refuses to believe that there isn't a Santa Claus.

Posted by: ktjrdn at August 11, 2009 1:14 PM

That is completely and totally jacked! I am so glad Mia is unscathed by it.

Posted by: laineyDid at August 11, 2009 1:20 PM

As someone who lives in western Canada ... :P

Posted by: Heather at August 11, 2009 3:37 PM

Oh, don't give up on Astrid Lindgren. I remember reading her books as a kid and I loved them. Still do. I never read that Book, but Pippi Longstocking, Ronia the Robbers daughter and others are classics. Give them a shot.

Posted by: Alex at August 11, 2009 4:39 PM

Oh, don't give up on Astrid Lindgren. I remember reading her books as a kid and I loved them. Still do. I never read that Book, but Pippi Longstocking, Ronia the Robbers daughter and others are classics. Give them a shot.

Posted by: Alex at August 11, 2009 4:39 PM

Then avoid the Pippi movies because they're annoying as hell (I loved them as a kid), there was a little song that went with it and I could still sing it for you now if I didn't like you and wanted to break your ear drums I totally would.

Fortunately, my kid only wants library books about animals and dinosaurs. Though, that's a whole other ball of wax. Having to learn how to pronounce all those dinosaur names is kind of a bitch.

Posted by: Sarah at August 11, 2009 7:52 PM

So glad that Beth was reading ahead! I can't remember what movie it was, but a couple years a go (my daughter would have been 6), she was watching a movie made for CHILDREN and there was a line about there being no such thing as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. I was in the next room and went hauling ass for the TV to shut it off. I don't know how I glossed over it, but I did, and she still believes (she's 8 now). Kid movies and books should be safe from this shit.

Posted by: js at August 12, 2009 8:33 AM

I don't know how to explain that one but wait a few years and then read Ronia, The Robber's Daughter to her. You'll forgive Astrid Lindgren, or I'll eat my hat. (Let me know, because I'll have to buy a hat).

Posted by: Jess at August 12, 2009 5:50 PM

And besides, that's Mia's job anyway, once Owen's bigger. What's she trying to do, deny your child her birthright? Bitch.

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