Here’s a startling (but inevitable) trend in books for children:

In “The Defiant Ones,” a recent essay published in the New Yorker, Daniel Zalewski argues that picture books for children now reflect a world turned upside down in terms of the relationship between parent and child. As he explains, in the newest picture books for children, the kids are solidly in charge.

via Parents, Obey Your Children? –


  1. Huh, wow. Have you actually read the article, “The Defiant Ones,” that The Mole was discussing? I just did.

    It’s drivel.

    The author clearly wants to find things to get upset about and, in the end, appears to be writing poorly conceived critique wholly in order to play shill for another children’s book author’s wares. The whole thing is just stupid.

    For instance:

    One of the latest catchphrases to infect parental discourse is an admonishment against greed. A child who demands more Goldfish crackers is told, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.” (Despite the singsong rhyme, the phrase is rather grim—it could be a fragment from “The Collected Wisdom of Kim Jong Il.”)

    Rather grim? The invocation of Kim Jong Il? Does this guy have any sense of what words mean when strung together in parsable contexts we call sentences? For someone who’s complaining that children are ruling the roost, comparing the sane words of that pedagogical rhyme to an unhinged dictatorship seems to be creating a paradox in which he cannot possibly be pleased.

    Later he continues to hyperbolize, this time in reference to something called Knuffle Bunny:

    Trixie, beginning school in Park Slope, discovers that another girl owns the same toy. They accidentally switch bunnies. That night, Trixie wakes up and realizes that her comfort object is an alien impostor. She flips out—she wants Knuffle Bunny, now! Her dad sheepishly requests a reprieve: “Trixie’s daddy tried to explain what ‘2:30 A.M.’ means. He asked, ‘Can we deal with this in the morning?’ ” Trixie’s fixed stare makes clear that the answer is no. Salvation comes in the form of a ringing phone: the other girl’s father, equally cowed, has called to propose a handoff in Prospect Park. There’s an element of satire here, but the idea that children have executive authority is now so entrenched that many readers, old and young, are likely to consider a moonlit stuffed-animal exchange an ordinary turn of events.

    Oh, yes. I’m certain that many readers (who don’t exist anywhere but in Zalewski’s delusional world) would this turn of events perfectly normal. Heck, maybe even a fortnightly occurrence.

    Balderdash. The only thing startling here was that this article ever saw print publication when it deserve little more than 34 KB of space on some remote blog visited only be friends (growing fewer) and family (owing to a situation in which blood may be thicker than love).

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