Mommy Chronicles

A funny look at motherhood and the mayhem it causes.

March 18, 2003

Curious Children’s Books

The news that Madonna is working on a children’s book series has been out for a few weeks now. But I guess I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.

After all, her “Sex” book is out of print. It did get a lot of media coverage when it came out, but considering how popular the topic is in general and the fact that Madonna is a household name, it’s pretty pathetic that it has failed to become a bedroom classic.

I can’t believe someone is giving her the chance to write a bedtime classic. Who is going to buy this? The people who ran out and bought a cone bra after they saw Madonna dancing on stage in one? That will sell two copies, I suppose.

I mean, really. Madonna is an entertaining singer. Lucy and I often shake our groove things while one of her CDs is playing. As an actress, she really set the standard for armpit-drying in public places when she freshened up in “Desperately Seeking Susan.” This would have won her Oscar, had there been a category for Creative Hygiene.

But a children’s book writer? At best, it will be, um, Borderline:

Once upon a time there was a Material Girl who acted Like a Virgin, much to the dismay of her father, the shaman of their village in Argentina. Papa, Don’t Preach, she said.

But Papa was right. “Who’s That Girl?” the village people asked (before disco was put in its icky place by hot 80s chicks). She looks like she’s got a Secret.

“Don’t cry for me, Argentina,” she said, before a Ray of Light sliced through the sky and Time Stood Still, while, in the background, Music played.

The end.

I don’t know this, but I am suspecting the publishers who buy children’s books don’t all have children. Books are, in some ways, like blood transfusions. It feels like they go straight to the heart. And just as you wouldn’t want to transfuse your child with, say, rodent blood, it’s really hard to think someone with Madonna’s artistic past as a comforting choice for the nursery bookshelf. It makes me miss Mr. Rogers. You knew what was under his cardigan, and it was clean.

Maybe she’ll surprise us. After all, modern parents are pretty prissy when it comes to what we read to our children. The truth is, even some of the classics have parts that would tactfully be called curious.”

I never thought a bad thing about Curious George at all until I read it to Lucy and realized that not only was The Man With The Yellow Hat really cruel for tricking George and swiping him from the jungle, he was also an idiot. George isn’t a monkey, like the man says. He has no tail. Monkeys have tails. Therefore, George an ape – a chimpanzee, judging from the look of his face.

To make matters worse, the man gives George a pipe to smoke after dinner. I just put my hand over that part of the story. But at some point, Curious Lucy will ask what Curious George has in his mouth. And what am I supposed to say? That the pharmacy was out of the patch, and George gave in to a monster nicotine fit?

So who knows. Maybe Madonna will be an improvement. Maybe she’ll have a character who’s really into Pilates, or something healthy like that, and has the additional clear judgment to abstain from having unprotected sex with her personal trainer.

Maybe I’m being horribly unfair here. Maybe my expectations for children’s books are too high. I’m asking them to be everything that I’m not: always wise, always uplifting, and always accurate when they discuss the anatomy of apes and monkeys.

And so, maybe, when they come out, I’ll give Madonna’s books a chance. I’ll buy one for Lucy, and in honor of the author, read it in a fake English accent. That would have to be more comfortable than my old cone bra.


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