Sunday, February 8, 2009

Don't Read My Book To Two Year Olds!!

At the very real risk of frightening people and causing them not to buy my book, Twelve Terrible Things, I'd like to make something very clear: THE BOOK IS NOT FOR TWO YEAR OLD KIDS!!!
It seems obvious to most of us, but consider the poorly spelled and grammatically awkward (not to mention rude and unsigned) email I received from a concerned citizen today:

Recently your Twelve Terrible Things was read to a group of 2 year olds at the library. Personally, I found the book highly inappropriate for this age group. Particularly, eerie was the figure on the ledge of some sort being prompted to jump. The goldfish, the clown, these were strange, which I can see from your sense of humor is the object of your work. Who exactly is your target audience?
Sorry, but in my little world your book is too much too digest for little ones. I know it doesn't matter to you, but I am telling every educator and any one who works with little ones to steer clear of this book.
Unfortunately, in today's society, there is probably a good market for your type of dark humor.

Of course the book is not for two year old children. She seemed so earnest, however, I couldn't let her concerns go unanswered:

Dear Person Who Didn’t Sign His Name To His Email:

I’m sorry that you find a little dark humor to be objectionable and offensive and would begrudge others a chance to indulge in something other than sugar-coated niceness. More worrisome to me is that fact that you would choose to read Twelve Terrible Things to a group of two year old children. It is plainly not an appropriate choice for children that young. The book has exactly 129 words in it, so a quick read-through before sharing it with kids shouldn’t have taken too long. The unambiguous title, as well as the warning on the first page, also give a clear indication of what is to be presented in the book.

The book is obviously targeted toward a much older age group. In fact, many of the adults I speak with at book signings and other events tell me that they are buying the book for themselves.

The many years I spent as a classroom teacher and the tens of thousands of students I have visited at schools have left me with a fairly clear idea of what is appropriate for different age groups. I don’t share Twelve Terrible Things with children below 3rd or 4th grade for the simple reason that the kids are too young to understand the humor or to have experienced the events in the book. Many children have had pets die, have been frightened by clowns or have found that the high dive (the precipitous ledge in question) looks even higher from above. This book gives them a chance to look back and laugh, having overcome–or at least experienced–these unpleasant events.

Despite your assumption that it doesn’t matter to me, I am delighted that you are willing to spend your valuable time suggesting to educators that the book is not appropriate for two year olds, though I suspect that any reasonable, intelligent person will figure that out without your assistance.

Thank you for your vigilance and concern for the welfare of our youth,

Marty Kelley

Please people, use your heads.