Mimi Smartypants has some good words on picture books. I particularly liked her devastation of that little piece of poison by Kevin Henkes, Owen, in which weak-minded parents, egged on by a sadistic neighbour, destroy their child’s security blanket. Eila hates this book with a passionate hatred. She would like to burn it, and I can’t blame her. Like Owen, she has a yellow blanket. His name is Blankey. What happens in the story seems to her a case of murder.
Also interesting is DR on Paddington, the little bear from Darkest Peru. She writes in the comments to this post that “Paddington relies on what I think of as sitcom humor — watch someone get into stupid situations and make a mess of themselves — which I’ve never been a fan of.” This is quite right, and explains why neither Eila or I can seem to stomach the book — though, fired by its status as a classic, we have tried. Z and I have been bitching lately about how The Wire got sit-comish part way through Season Two. DR’s explained the problematic formula pithily.
And what, you ask, of the zero-sum games? I’ve been pondering the new Ontario law making it illegal to smoke in a car with a child in it. I’ve been asking myself: who on earth would want to do this anyway? Who would want to pollute a tiny box containing toddlers? But then the answer came to me. It’s people who don’t smoke in their houses, that’s who. Many people these days are banished from their own premises to smoke. Most of them — all of them — must associate the process of leaving the house with smoking. In any case, they’re dying for a smoke, and if they are parents — if what they’ve been doing inside is taking care of small children — they’re really dying for a smoke. Hence: cigarettes in cars with children in them. Maybe the new law will drive the smokers indoors, polluting the breakfast table instead.
Here’s another zero-sum game: when Eila’s on the computer, I can’t check my email. That’s no big insight, but my point is something different. In light of our worries about technology — some of which are articulated in an interesting Atlantic article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” we are considering a weekly sabbath from the internet.
Or maybe we just won’t use it in the car.