105 Ways to Give a Book

Two Yucky Picture Books

I’ve had to save these books for a rainy day. You know, a day when I couldn’t think of anything to write. Sometimes when I’m at work I’ll make notes in an email and send it to myself, usually notes about books that I don’t want to bring home. Here are two such picture books.

I'm a Duck!At first I thought I would like I’m A Duck! by Terry Sloat. The pictures look like Make Way for Ducklings in a way that must be intentional. But in this story, the duckling is supposedly growing as we read this from a tiny duckling to a full-grown drake who finds a girl duck and they have babies and start it all over again. So why does the duck still talk like a baby? Is something wrong with him? And then here are the rhymes:

Look at these feet — pretty neat! Wow,
They’re webbed. What a treat.

There’s a strut in my waddle now. I’ve got a wife!
I tell you, this girl has changed my whole life.

Oh, just yucky.

When You Are HappyBut worse was Eileen Spinelli’s When You Are Happy. Again, good author, I thought I would like it. Started reading...

When you are sad. I will hold you. I will let you cry.


I will catch your tears in a blue cup and water the yellow flowers and they will grow more beautiful.


When you are cold, I will weave you a blanket from leftover sun. I will sing summery songs for you until my voice cracks, and I will watch you warmly until I become the firelight dancing in your eyes.

Yucky, yuck.

Hey, I’m a softy. Loved On The Day You Were Born. Love books about loving your kid. But there’s a point at which the sweetness becomes yucky sweetness, and this book reached it. Reached it, passed it, set a new record.
Category: 5 comments


web said...

Way, WAY too feathery-stroker!

Daniel said...

BLARG! Good calls on both. The milieu of "Make Way For Ducklings" is a bit too early to start introducing the drake's excitement about his mate's webbed feet.

And the other? well, since my area du specialite is high school education...I'm not sure about this, so I'll introduce it to MotherReader and her audience:

As previously noted re: "The Velveteen Rabbit," I believe that children need to be exposed to a certain amount of the hardships of life. It is important to their development that literature reflects reality. If children are protected from all that is unpleasant until they are eighteen, what a rude awakening! Yet: what is the appropriate age to introduce grief? what is the appropriate venue? And, how is it best presented? MotherReader quoted a text that just sounded oogy and creepy. I certainly would NOT want to use that as a teaching tool for young kids.

Little Willow said...


The ducks in The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando deserve their own story. :0

Anonymous said...

I think your quotes from both books are interesting because they contradict advice I've heard from book publishing editors at book conferences I've attended the past years.1. The trend is away from rhyming unless it's done very well or in a unique way. (Examples of unique: Cowboy Jose)

Editors also advise picture book authors to severely limit adverbs, as the illustrator will show, rather than relying on the text to tell.

The books indeed sound yucky. How did they get published?

The Library Lady said...

Hey, I LIKE Teri Sloat and I liked the duck book.

Though I have to agree with you on the Spinelli book. I don't know what she was smoking when she wrote it, but it just doesn't sound like her stuff!

I have a definite distaste for the saccharine and the Velveteen Rabbit is near the top of my saccharine list. Long ago, when I was working in NYC, we had a screening of the film, and when it finished. the dear lady who was in charge of that part of Children's Services declared in her fluty little voice: "I'm sure we all have a lump in our throat and a tear in our eye."

Well, I did have a lump. Just not in my throat. Icky-sticky SWEET!

I also put Munsch's "Love You Forever" up in that category. I used to work with a lovely librarian who insisted on reading that in her story time for 2 year olds. All the mommies sniffed gently, and the kids ran amuk!