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The story is about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies.
July 19, 2012 11:51 AM   Subscribe

"This is about a girl that goes mining. I don’t know why, but she looks like she would go mining, mining for gold. " Judging a Book by its Cover: A 6-Year-Old Guesses What Classic Novels are All About.
posted by Navelgazer (89 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
“Momma, what’s this book about?” That is a question that I hear every time we go to our local bookstore as my very curious six-year-old daughter picks up eye-catching books from various sections from fiction to biographies to psychology. My family spends a fair amount time in bookstores...
Jeepers, bring this poor kid to the children's room at the library. She's desperate to have someone read to her from something she can understand.
posted by DU at 11:54 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


"a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies" made me laugh out loud.
posted by saladin at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Atlas Shrugged: a saddy, saddy, saddy bookie
posted by Egg Shen at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Atlas Shrugged: "It looks like a saddy, saddy, saddy bookie."

Ayup.
posted by yoink at 11:56 AM on July 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Curse you, unnecessarily delaying "ayup"! I shall not make that mistake again!
posted by yoink at 11:58 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I think it's a book about a haunted theme park and it stars a magical magic guy and he's good and evil and he's trying to get rid of the ghosts. And I think at the end, since it's haunted by a ghost, he tried to make the park go on fire and it did. "

That's actually beautiful and accurate.

Jeepers, bring this poor kid to the children's room at the library. She's desperate to have someone read to her from something she can understand.

Yu sure got a lot more information out of that text than I did.
posted by cmoj at 12:03 PM on July 19, 2012 [18 favorites]


DU: "Jeepers, bring this poor kid to the children's room at the library. She's desperate to have someone read to her from something she can understand."

Or maybe that's exactly what happens all the time, so she thinks "Hey, books are fun things with stories that sometimes I care about. Maybe this one right here!"
posted by Plutor at 12:03 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I love that she has figured out "red-striped shirt + scarf = French guy."
posted by bgrebs at 12:03 PM on July 19, 2012 [28 favorites]


She's desperate to have someone read to her from something she can understand.

I'm sure their local bookstore has a kid's book section. She just sounds like a bright little kid who is interested in the world around her.
posted by yoink at 12:03 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jeepers, bring this poor kid to the children's room at the library. She's desperate to have someone read to her from something she can understand.

That kid ALWAYS staring at that construction equipment. He's desperate for a toy he can play with!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:07 PM on July 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


This kid is awesome.
posted by jumelle at 12:08 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Evil web site repurposes space bar. Grr.

I am interested, but cannot browse it. Can somebody tell me if it's worth the trouble?
posted by koeselitz at 12:10 PM on July 19, 2012


Not really. The kid describes what's on the covers in most cases. She sees robots on several covers.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2012


Somewhat related (and hilarious) video. It's the first entry in a new web series called "Written by a Kid" where they take a story extemporized by a kid and turn it into a mini-film. This one stars Kate Micucci (of Garfunkle and Oates), Joss Whedon and Dave Foley.
posted by yoink at 12:12 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


On Catcher in the Rye: It doesn’t really have a story.

Nailed it in one!
posted by shakespeherian at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2012 [36 favorites]


Can somebody tell me if it's worth the trouble?

Depends on your appetite for "cute kid's misapprehensions of adult world" humor, basically. If that sort of thing can tickle your funny bone, this is likely to do that. If it tends to annoy you, then you'll probably be annoyed.
posted by yoink at 12:14 PM on July 19, 2012


This kid is awesome.

Yes, and this mom is also awesome. It is so, SO great to see this kid being exposed to books (not even necessarily reading them! Just knowing that books are a part of life), talking about them with an adult, having her thoughts about books validated as important, being encouraged in important pre-reading activities like predicting and making personal connections, even knowing terms like sprites -- that's a high-level vocabulary word for a six-year-old! Even if what it means is that she's interested in fairies and stuff, the fact that she's being exposed to this number of words is fantastic and even more fantastic is that she is being introduced to the idea of synonyms and gradations of meaning. All of this is unbelievably, HUGELY important and it's really hard to make up for this kind of family involvement in a child's literacy education with only school time. Unfortunately many kids don't get this kind of positive exposure to reading and all the great teaching in the world is going to have a hard time making up for it.

Also, yeah, that's pretty spot-on for The Great Gatsby.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:16 PM on July 19, 2012 [19 favorites]


On Catcher in the Rye: It doesn’t really have a story.

Odd not to have given the kid the classic cover, though, which makes it's pretty clear that it's a story about a merry-go-round horsey called Catcher that comes alive and develops a drinking problem.
posted by yoink at 12:16 PM on July 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


I think this needed to be a video and not text. Too cutesy this way.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2012


You seriously don't want to know how old I was when I finally learned that Catcher in the Rye wasn't about baseball.
posted by schmod at 12:20 PM on July 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


This is exactly the sort of thing that makes me think parenthood is going to be the BEST. The description of Jane Eyre as a gold digger caused me to snort.
posted by jph at 12:21 PM on July 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, this so reminds me of my youth. I read "Of Mice and Men" thinking it was going to be like Willard.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


You seriously don't want to know how old I was when I finally learned that Catcher in the Rye wasn't about baseball.

"If you mow it, they will come."
posted by yoink at 12:30 PM on July 19, 2012


This is awesome. But as the father of two, I agree that I'd rather hear the kid deliver her critiques, rather than just see them in print.
posted by Fritz Langwedge at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2012


Oh lord, those classic covers of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books! We had those laying around the house when I grew up. I created entire worlds and epic sagas out of those covers when I was her age, and my older brother would read parts of the books to me and talk about how great they were. I ended up reading The Hobbit in 2nd grade, since I was more fascinated by it than any of the kid's books we were reading in school. Sometimes a simple, evocative cover can change everything.
posted by naju at 12:31 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm really amused at how correct some of these were. Gatsby, Jane Eyre, and Catch-22 made me giggle.

And bgrebs, I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who thought it was funny that even six-year-olds equate stripes with the French.
posted by chatongriffes at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2012


This is great.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:33 PM on July 19, 2012


yoink: "You seriously don't want to know how old I was when I finally learned that Catcher in the Rye wasn't about baseball."

I was 13 - which is when I read it.

The description for Fahrenheit 451:

“I think this is about a gigantic robot who goes on fire and he doesn’t like himself. It has a sad ending. It looks like a book for teens. The title means fire, a really really really big fire since the number is 451, that would mean it was really hot. So the robot must get really hot. Maybe that is why he is so sad.”

She's off on this one -- but I am considering writing this book.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Pretty fancy for a robot.
posted by symbioid at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


This kid is awesome.

Exhibit A:

“That looks VERY CREEPY!!!” (My daughter insisted that there be three, exactly three exclamation points).
posted by Egg Shen at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2012


There are an awful lot of anthropomorphic trees. Some sad and lonely, some with magic rings, some with mockingbird leaves.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:35 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also a lot of robots. And obsession with "teens" which seems weird until you remember she's 6 and precocious, and I remember how obsessed I probably seemed with teens at that age (and, admittedly, pretty fucking precocious)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:38 PM on July 19, 2012


(On the Road) “I think it’s about a car. A car that goes to Mexico,

SPOILER ALERT.
posted by obscurator at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, I always appreciate when people do stuff like this and post it online because I've pretty much decided that I'm not having kids but if I did, we'd be playing games like this ALL THE TIME.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:41 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


cjorgensen: "I think this needed to be a video and not text. Too cutesy this way."

Yeah but that would prove that it's all bullshit and the mom made it up.
posted by symbioid at 12:43 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


clever child is clever. and amusing. and makes snarky man smile.
posted by lodurr at 12:45 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Spoiler Alert: It's really 506 Kelvin.
posted by schmod at 12:48 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I assumed exactly the same thing about my dad's copy of Animal Farm when I was in the early years of reading Chapter Books. I picked it up, read it, and thought, "wow, this is really... uh, is there something I'm not getting here...?"

So I asked my dad what it was supposed to be about and he said, "communism."

This was in like '88 or '89, maybe a year before the Berlin Wall went down.

Being a kid in the eighties was weird.

(Then again, does anyone read Animal Farm anymore? I mean, aside from as an interesting historical document? Do they still assign it in school?)
posted by Sara C. at 12:54 PM on July 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think pretty much all Vonnegut is about a slot machine lost in the desert
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


I read Animal Farm when I was about 8. I thought it was about the French Revolution.
posted by lodurr at 12:55 PM on July 19, 2012


I am confident that this is not an unenhanced rendering of a six year old's response to some book covers. Whether or not that affects how cute you think it is is none of my business.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:56 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


On Steppenwolf: The story is about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies.

No, but it you want to read that story, it is available on the internet. I'm sure.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:00 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


These put me in mind of Kate Beaton's cover versions:

Edward Gorey
II
III
IV
V

Nancy Drew
II
III
IV
posted by zamboni at 1:06 PM on July 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


The very very hairy eagles are turning fancy ladies into merry-go-round horsies!
posted by yoink at 1:06 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are great. When I was a kid I thought Catch-22 was about baseball too (and went on thinking that for...well, an embarrassingly long time).

My copy of Steppenwolf had those "fancy ladies" on the cover as well. I've never had so many people ask me about a book in my life.
posted by medeine at 1:07 PM on July 19, 2012


You seriously don't want to know how old I was when I finally learned that Catcher in the Rye wasn't about baseball.

That's nothing...until last week, I thought A Farewell To Arms was about a terrible accident with a wheat thresher. It always struck me as an ironic title, as I imagined the protagonist trying to wave goodbye, in vain.
posted by Edgewise at 1:07 PM on July 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


I am confident that this is not an unenhanced rendering of a six year old's response to some book covers.

I'm confident you had a six-year old ghost write this comment.
posted by yoink at 1:09 PM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The guy on the cover is a teen, he likes to drive people places a lot. And he’s French.”

Yes, he is, and yes, he does.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:11 PM on July 19, 2012


Edgewise, your father told you that, didn't he? Didn't he?!
posted by lodurr at 1:16 PM on July 19, 2012


A bit off topic, but I recently encountered this hilariously misleading cover.
posted by brundlefly at 1:23 PM on July 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Edgewise: That's nothing...until last week, I thought A Farewell To Arms was about a terrible accident with a wheat thresher.

I think that's a Kafka story.

(The Penal Colony, maybe...)
posted by Skygazer at 1:26 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some great plot ideas.

Moby Dick (whale turned inside out, a whale called Moby Dick) is a basically correct but excessively brief summary.
posted by Segundus at 1:29 PM on July 19, 2012


Her description of The Great Gatsby was dead on. It was more of a book review through a very lovely metaphorical lens. More book reviews should be so concise and evocatively distilled. She said much about the layers of the book with so little. I could see it being the way Fitzgerald thought of the story before writing / relating it to the time period of the Depression.

Also, nice going with Animal Farm, and the idea of a hiding bird in To Kill A Mockingbird..

Moby Dick wouldn't render. What did she say??
posted by Skygazer at 1:37 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait - if the whale is turned inside out, does this mean... Ahab and the ship and all are actually... duh duh duh.... ON THE INSIDE OF THE WHALE????
posted by symbioid at 1:39 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, that description of On The Road is really accurate.

And, if I ever wrote something that could be described as "...about a very very hairy eagle who hangs out with fancy ladies", I would consider my ambitions fulfilled.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:44 PM on July 19, 2012


"A slot machine lost in the desert" is my new favorite description of the human condition.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:01 PM on July 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


(Then again, does anyone read Animal Farm anymore? I mean, aside from as an interesting historical document? Do they still assign it in school?)

I don't know that its just an historical document. When I read it recently, it struck me as painfully descriptive of how easy it is to mislead people through fast talking and shouting down dissent. It may have been about communism, but read it and think about Fox news every time Squealer changes one of the rules and insists its always read that way.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:10 PM on July 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


When I was eight or nine, I was old enough to know that my father would like a book for Christmas, but not old enough to figure out which one. I went into the Waldenbooks at the mall and headed for the shelf labeled "Fiction -- Classics."

There, I picked out one by its cover. All I knew that it ought not to look all that interesting to me, since I was a kid, and it should be kind of quiet-looking. I got a copy of a paperback with a pure white cover, and only a little bit of picture, a smiling girl's face looking out from behind the letters of the title.

It was Lolita.

Christmas morning must have been so weird for my daddy that year. But, God love him, he said thank you.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:20 PM on July 19, 2012 [37 favorites]


Lolita, light on my tree, fire at the hearth. My gift, my carol. Ho-ho-ho: the swell of the belly swaying its way down the beltline to roll, at three, on the season.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:37 PM on July 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


i know the kid's dad. he's awesome. sometimes he posts funny stuff his daughter says or draws on facebook, and i can tellya - she's a smart, funny little firecracker. this is not ghostwritten. but yes - it is delightful. as some of you mefites have said, i like some of her storylines better than the originals.
posted by lapolla at 3:02 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The book is about a zebra that wears pants. It’s a drama book about this zebra guy who likes to go fishing for aces.

This would be approximately 12 billion times better than the actual book.
posted by elizardbits at 3:12 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


On a more serious note: Should everyone post what their precious kids say and do, then...if only so that the child grows up feeling comfortable with expressing themselves to an audience or do certain kids and certain parents have more of a "right" and entitlement to a "voice," than others??

Is there a downside to exposing a child to having their artwork or words up on the web?

Serious question.

Honestly, I meet parents like this all the time. I call it the "Park Slope Syndrome (a ritzy, arty area of Brooklyn, NY with many new-ish parents) and sometimes, it's more about the parent's sense of entitlement and needing the exposure and accolades than the kids. Many are highly educated from Ivy's and sub-Ivy's with class appropriate well-to-do backgrounds, that imply an entitled idea to their idea that "of course" little Missy or Junior are de facto geniuses and inflict that on their kids.

Coming from a working class background with parents who had lowly jobs, and having sort of risen up in class (and back down...) a few, times, and with a creative vibrant 4 year old girl myself, and no need to share every bit of her art works and ideas/perceptions with the world, this sensibility I see in some of these StrollerDerby blogger folks (I would bet money some of them live in Park Slope or Brooklyn), strikes me a bit as nobless oblige, and sets my teeth on edge.

Any thoughts on this? How does one give a child a sense of a right to expression and a voice without creating a little overbearing precocious entitled little monster?
posted by Skygazer at 3:30 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any thoughts on this? How does one give a child a sense of a right to expression and a voice without creating a little overbearing precocious entitled little monster?

Encourage them to speak their mind and all that but make 'em do chores and contribute to family life in other ways to make sure they know they have a right to free expression but also responsibilities to people other than themselves.
posted by Diablevert at 3:52 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


lapolla: “i know the kid's dad. he's awesome.”

Please tell him that sites which repurpose the spacebar and alt-arrow keystrokes for in-site navigation are the most evil thing on the internet, and that any time most people visit those sites they gouge their eyes out with pencils and run screaming from the screen. Well, I did, anyway. It's a very nice little series that I found amusing, but taking away my ability to go back without reaching for the mouse is evil, and nobody should ever do it. Babble should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by koeselitz at 4:00 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


skygazer, since you ask: you lack a sense of fun - at least in this instance. and seem to have a chip on your shoulder. you make huge assumptions about whoo this child is, and

anyone can walk into a library and access these books. i come for a working class family, and my parents made damn sure i had access to good books. they asked me what i thought of things. they wanted me to think, to think for myself, to be curious and create.

i don't have kids - don't even particularly like 'em! but found this really fun and interesting. and it's not cuz i know the dad - i read the article BEFORE i knew my personal connection, and i thought it was pretty cool. i didn't translate it to any sense of entitlement, or overbearing precociousness.

if you wanna encourage your kid to be creative, focus on the act of creating, and fun, and sharing.
posted by lapolla at 4:04 PM on July 19, 2012


*and what her parent are like* - sorry - that got away from me.
posted by lapolla at 4:05 PM on July 19, 2012



I am confident that this is a six year old -- and I also suspect that this 'game' was probably not done 'for the benefit of an audience'.

This 'game' is actually a great skill-building exercise for anyone - child or adult. Interpreting visual messages is part intuitive and partly a learned skill. Visual literacy is greatly misunderstood and not taught well in schools. In this period of time we are awash in millions of visuals every day -- and few of us question their affect on us. This parent is helping her child be aware.

When I was teaching a humanities class, the first essay on novels was always about the 'story' on the cover of the novel. It was hard for the students who wanted to be 'right' about the plot -- but then it was enlightening for all when the novels were finished and the students returned to those first essays.
posted by Surfurrus at 4:11 PM on July 19, 2012


Now I want to try this myself - pop a little "This book is about ..." note in my husband's books for him to find. *chuckle*

The poor man, he puts up with a lot.

I was quite impressed when I came across "a saddy, saddy, saddy bookie". 'Hey, these parents must take their six year old to the track!' Only a momentary disconnect.
posted by Catch at 4:22 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


*ahem* Skygazer, love, pardon me, but your chip is showing.
posted by Catch at 4:34 PM on July 19, 2012


Man, that SteppenWolf cover and response brought back the bizarre fascination certain books on my Dad's SF bookshelf used to have, because of their lurid 60s painted covers. The Reassembled Man was one (Not that good for work, but probably safe). I used to feel so creeped out just by looking at it, but would do so anyway until it squicked me fully.
posted by Sparx at 4:36 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


skygazer, since you ask: you lack a sense of fun

Asking a serious question does not mean I have no sense of fun. I am fun personified. I am fun-alisciously fun. Humpf.

And my daughter has books and is read too and is asked to share and all those things...and is creatively off the hook.

That's not the point.

It's seems to me about "who" has a "right" to a voice. I find it is frequently related to financial standing AND having parents who're intellectuals of some sort: Professors, doctors or lawyers.

And I think it's something to be aware of...because it doesn't come so naturally to everyone.

I also think this sort of sense of entitlement and preciousness, needs to be balanced with instilling a sense of humility and a sense of duty and knowing that nothing comes easy and it requires very consistent and hard work and discipline and persistence and that is just as important if not more so, than letting the world think you're the most interesting, talented and smartest little girl the world did ever see...

And this sort of over-exposure too young can have a lasting effect that's not so good if it's not balanced out with a sense of having worked for something.
posted by Skygazer at 4:47 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh! I can totally see the really weird looking zebra now that she's pointed it out! Man, that zebra is so cool to play Go Fish with.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:02 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


*ahem* Skygazer, love, pardon me, but your chip is showing.
posted by Catch at 7:34 PM on July 19 [+] [!]


Well, that's dismissive and condescending and hugely presumptuous.

It reminds me a lot of what's happening in the U.S. right now with the way the GOTP and Conservatives will silence anyone concerned about the overwhelming economic abuses by the uber-wealthy, as being "envious" or "jealous."
posted by Skygazer at 5:51 PM on July 19, 2012



How does one give a child a sense of a right to expression and a voice without creating a little overbearing precocious entitled little monster?


I think the "right to expression and voice" is seized by value of one's contributions. A person who says interesting things is listened to.

I have often thought that artists are spurred on by the need to escape marginalization. Miller wrote about
…the man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality.
I also think this sort of sense of entitlement and preciousness, needs to be balanced with instilling a sense of humility and a sense of duty and knowing that nothing comes easy and it requires very consistent and hard work and discipline and persistence and that is just as important if not more so, than letting the world think you're the most interesting, talented and smartest little girl the world did ever see...

Doesn't humility will come with failure, and hard work with ambition? What's wrong with sharing with the world the things you find interesting — not out of vanity — but just out of the basic human desire of expression?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 5:54 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Skygazer, you obviously have access to the internet. If you think that reporting cute things your child says gives that child significant social advantages, then you can go right ahead and report away. If only this were a significant pathway to social empowerment--the playing field would be an awful lot more level than it is.

Which is not to disagree with you that the voices we hear online are disproportionately the voices of 'privilege.' That's obviously true. But I think you're mistaking cause for effect here. Nor is that a reason for those privileged enough to feel comfortable expressing themselves online to self-censor; the goal is to make everyone feel equally empowered, not to have everyone feel equally abashed, surely?
posted by yoink at 6:00 PM on July 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then again, does anyone read Animal Farm anymore? I mean, aside from as an interesting historical document? Do they still assign it in school?

I can report to you that my daughter graduated one year ago and in her final year she was assigned 1984, A Handmaid's Tale, Animal Farm, and The Time Machine in a literature class. She had to do a final essay comparing and contrasting themes as well as her choice of artwork. She designed costumes.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Thanks for posting. Also I am sad for the lonely tree.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:17 PM on July 19, 2012


skygazer. i think you are trolling. 'cuz if you quote me out of context, you're not actually trying to have a discussion, you're just using it as an excuse to reiterate your negative stance. and you keep going on about entitlement of certain people who are just like the people who belong to this child, and are quite defensive about your extremely judgmental (and incorrect) assumptions of this little girl and her parents and their status in life. if you really wanted to have a discussion about how to instill values into your child, you needn't have started off with a craptastic and prejudiced vent. it was a subtle derail, yet a derail all the same. but, i feel like i may be feeding a troll, so i'll stop.
posted by lapolla at 6:25 PM on July 19, 2012


On a more serious note: Should everyone post what their precious kids say and do, then...if only so that the child grows up feeling comfortable with expressing themselves to an audience or do certain kids and certain parents have more of a "right" and entitlement to a "voice," than others??

Huh-- it honestly never remotely occurred to me to view this sort of page as about giving anybody, child or parent, a "voice" in some larger political or human sense.

Do parents really take the trouble to compile cute illustrated blog posts, gratis, just because they believe others will admire their genius kids? I assumed that posts like this are about desperate, topic-starved freelancers exploiting various aspects of their personal lives to try to make ends meet.
posted by Bardolph at 6:29 PM on July 19, 2012


esprit de l'escalier: I have often thought that artists are spurred on by the need to escape marginalization. Miller wrote about
…the man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality.

Would that be Alice Miller? Because I absolutely need to read the book you got that quotation from (I read The Drama of the Gifted Child years ago. I don't remember that snippet being in there).
posted by Skygazer at 6:58 PM on July 19, 2012


I have often thought that artists are spurred on by the need to escape marginalization.

Somewhat. I think they're also spurred on by the need to interpret the world in manner that makes it palatable, sustaining, understandable; safe. It's a survival technique. And the Imagination is a tool of survival and self-protection. It's a very unknowable thing inside someones head.

Taking that and putting it out into the world for others to share in seems a whole other thing. Another drive maybe, or for a different goal. A less pure goal really.
posted by Skygazer at 7:08 PM on July 19, 2012


The kid is certainly fond of the phrase "go on fire."

And her reading of The Color Purple is hilarious.
posted by psoas at 7:13 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The slot machine in the desert was where I lost it. That's a story that needs writing.

Her accuracy about some of the books is in great part a testament to the the cover artists (and of course to the publisher who commissioned/selected their art).

Skygazer, I'm hearing something that feels kind of... WASPy, about your critique. Some cultures have long had the value of not bragging about kids and cultivating humility and quietness. Others much less so. Both the intense interest in what children are thinking about and the pride and joy in sharing it feel very familiar and natural to me, and even traditional. I'm not sure you're talking about a chronological or privilege divide so much as a cultural one.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:14 PM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


LaPolla: skygazer. i think you are trolling. 'cuz if you quote me out of context, you're not actually trying to have a discussion, you're just using it as an excuse to reiterate your negative stance.


Sorry about taking you out of context there. I'm definitely not trolling. And I really like what this little girl had to say about most of those book covers (It really is a testament to the art departments of the publishers as Salamandrous said). And no disrespect is meant to her parents.

Sorry to make it about economic differences. I'm really just trying to get to the root of "voice" and inadvertent (or conscious) silencing and where does that need and right to a voice come from, as well as, the effect it has on kids in the long run if it's divorced from a sense of hard work and discipline in order to have a voice and to know what that means and not take it for granted.

Both the intense interest in what children are thinking about and the pride and joy in sharing it feel very familiar and natural to me, and even traditional. I'm not sure you're talking about a chronological or privilege divide so much as a cultural one.

I think you're right. It might be more of a cultural or community sense where this is completely normal.

If the imagination is a survival mechanism, there's a good chance what comes from it can be used by others. Especially if the language, the theme and the struggle is the same. And that would most naturally come work best with people from the same culture or community.

But I'm not WASP-y at all. I think. Unless I'm some weird Sicilian version of a WASP.
posted by Skygazer at 7:50 PM on July 19, 2012


Most of the cute kid stories I hear about are things friends post on their LiveJournals, so I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that this is something privileged or that it's somehow silencing other people's children. Some people like telling stories about their kids and showing photos of them. Some do it with scrapbooks, some do it with oh-lord-is-it-another-18-pages-of-them-bragging-about-their-kids-again Christmas letters, some do it online. Some of them are funny writers or really good photographers and build larger audiences over time. Some of them aren't entertaining writers or very good photographers and their audiences tend to consist of friends and family. But nobody is silencing anybody else, that I see.
posted by Lexica at 8:04 PM on July 19, 2012


>It always struck me as an ironic title, as I imagined the protagonist trying to wave goodbye, in vain.

"Goodbye ar... DAMMIT!"
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:51 PM on July 19, 2012


Would that be Alice Miller? Because I absolutely need to read the book you got that quotation from (I read The Drama of the Gifted Child years ago. I don't remember that snippet being in there).

It's actually Henry Miller. I left his first name out because didn't want to get into a discussion about the value of his writing…

Somewhat. I think they're also spurred on by the need to interpret the world in manner that makes it palatable, sustaining, understandable; safe. It's a survival technique. And the Imagination is a tool of survival and self-protection. It's a very unknowable thing inside someones head.

Taking that and putting it out into the world for others to share in seems a whole other thing. Another drive maybe, or for a different goal. A less pure goal really.


It sounds like escapism to me…
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:23 PM on July 19, 2012


The kid is certainly fond of the phrase "go on fire."

If only I smoked, this would forever be my preferred way of asking for a light.
posted by memewit at 10:50 PM on July 19, 2012


It's ok Skygazer, if you look at my posting history you'll see that I too can see a negative side of anything. And it's not a bad thing (honest!). Someone needs to be the voice of cynicism and negativity. Balance is important.

That being said, I thought this post was great and I don't (at the time of writing anyway) see anything wrong with it. In fact, I literally LOL'd!
posted by MattMangels at 11:40 PM on July 19, 2012


MattMangels, thanks do much for allowing me permission to be "the voice of cynicism and negativity." I live and breath for that kind of validation...


Look, I was trying to make a real point, but it got seems to have gotten high-jacked by a need to defend this post, and a need to turn the issue into my "chip" instead of any real discussion or exploration of how to help kids be expressive and creative, in a manner that's healthy and Be:

1.) Not a narcissistic expression of the parent through the child.

and

2.)Instill in a child the sense that their voice and creativity and imagination is important, without making them grow up to be self-important and in capable of humility.

and again and again and again I see a class component to the folks that make the jump to the the paradigm that the arts and ones imagination can sustain one, Feed and put a roof over over head.

I think it's crucially important that that specif paradigm be made available to a class of folks that don't naturally have access to it.

But maybe this was the wrong place to bring up these issues, so apologies for that, maybe I'll put something clearer and better thought out up on AskMefi.

Anyone wants to address this further feel free to please MeMail me. Thx.
posted by Skygazer at 8:07 PM on July 20, 2012


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