A Synopsis of 5 Children’s Books from a Slightly Different Perspective

Parents cannot receive enough helping guiding their children’s growth through reading. This article seeks to look at the meanings of five different children’s books through a slightly different – perhaps the adjective would be “twisted” – perspective.

We will now explore the Dr. Seuss work Green Eggs & Ham, the bedtime classics Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Green Eggs & Ham by Dr. Seuss

An antagonistic marketing representative named Sam has the unenviable task of promoting a less than esthetically pleasing food product; Pushes envelope and bounds of legality by badgering his target into eventually trying his edible wares.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

An apparently recalcitrant child attempts to avoid going to sleep by diverting attention to every minute detail in his unkempt and unsanitary room – mice inhabit the place and leftover food remains in it’s tableware on the nightstand. Of note, a live fireplace in the child’s bedroom remains ablaze as the child is going to sleep, indicating negligent parental role models.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Vorst
A journey into a narcissistic, underachieving child’s complaints around how badly a day has gone for him; failing to understand the complaints of those around him – for instance the teacher can’t understand how an invisible castle would meet the stated requirements of the school project causes the child stress. His life is that much more difficult than everyone elses’.

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

This story perfectly illustrates why children are not to be allowed unfettered access to crayons and other such playthings, particularly near bedtime. This is another story of lax parenting as Harold’s parents are no where to be seen as he goes on a journey while he should be sleeping. In fact, he is so tired, he hallucinates his journey to vast places created simply by his crayon; ultimately growing so tired he draws his own room and goes to sleep.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A story of a gluttonous caterpillar apparently suffering from some form of the eating disorder pica. By the end of the week the caterpillar becomes so completely obese, there is little for him to do to cure his stomach ache but to literally build a cocoon. Carries the warning of overeating and obesity to children.

 

Afterward: I found some old blog entries I’d written some years ago, that I’m planning to cull through.  This one was written February 29, 2008, so it’s really only just about 3 years old.

 

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My Level I Grievance Against Santa Claus

Mr. Santa Claus

North Pole

I represent Mo Morrissey. As his representative, this will serve as formal notification of a Level I grievance, as required under the social contract between S. Claus, Inc. (hereinafter known as “Santa”) and “All the Good Boys and Girls” (hereinafter known as “the Kids”), for the inappropriate placing of Mo on the “Naughty” list and without good cause.

Speaking to Mo’s membership in the “the Kids” class, while he is sufficiently of age as to no longer be covered by the term “boy,” we refer you to the 1944 Mel Torme song, “The Christmas Song,” wherein the group “kids” is defined as “…from one to ninety-two.” As this definition has gone unchallenged, it is the working definition of those covered under this social contract, and Mo clearly falls within the boundaries.

We take the position that Santa without good cause placed him on the “Naughty” list and treated Mo as such for purposes of gift giving in the Christmas of 2014. Any evidence that Mo has, in fact, been naughty this year, is procedurally barred due to the failure to properly notify him of this assignment to the naughty list.

Article I of the social contract states that no kid will be placed on the naughty list without good cause and Santa will not arbitrarily or capriciously appoint such kid to the naughty list without due process. Mo was given no notice of his placement on the Naughty list, nor was any opportunity given to hear evidence or speak to the charges against him. Santa, in this case, placed Mo on the list in violation of the social contract.

Placement on the naughty list carries with it not only the stigma of having achieved a special sort of notoriety, but the additional penalty of a sub-par showing of presents on Christmas morning as defined by a minimal number of items under the tree as requested in his Article II “letter to Santa” (this document – which was delivered to the North Pole in the required format, no less than 3 weeks before Christmas morning as required – is enclosed with this letter). Imagine Mo’s surprise when, upon waking up to find Santa indeed came to his home, he found little of what he asked for on his Christmas list. The return receipt clearly shows “Hermie the Elf” signed for his letter two days after Thanksgiving day.

In consideration of Santa’s violations of procedure, we submit the following remedy of this grievance for your consideration. Removal of Mo’s name from the 2014 Naughty list, and an additional item from his Article II letter to Santa, with preference being given the SUV or in the alternative, we would be willing to consider the requested number of gold bullion bars.

In the absence of settlement, please confirm with my office a date and time for a grievance hearing. We are certainly interested in concluding this matter at the earliest possible stages of the grievance process as a protracted grievance serves no ones interest – particularly as you begin your winter vacation. Please do, though, bear in mind, the time requirements of the grievance process.

Sincerely,

The offices of Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe

With All Due Respect…

“With all due respect.” The phrase is supposed to acknowledge that the parties of a conversation do not agree on a particular point, and such disagreement is not due to any disrespect. It further indicates there is a degree of admiration due to the listener.

A skillful speaker of English, however, can successfully twist the phrase into a slight in and of itself. The truly beautiful part of using it against the listener is that there is nothing in particular about the phrase that should engender anything from the listener other than a polite response; it almost creates the obligation for a polite response. If you’re the particular sort who takes great pride in knotting someone’s boxers in a bunch, you can lay that on your listener, say something that completely contradicts what they have just represented and they will be left with the sense that you were speaking to them with respect, yet you have come up with something utterly offensive.

This of course can cost a few social points in that you have specifically stated that you don’t mean to be offensive – and clearly because you gave all due respect – and yet your own social filters were unable to screen out the patently offensive comment. However, if the target of your social incorrectness is somewhat more socially inept than are you, you can easily skate on this point with all of your social correctness chits in place.

You can also use the phrase to indicate how little you actually do think of the listener.

When speaking with someone you clearly do not respect, stating that you’re going to make a point to them with all the respect due them, is a bit like offering the sleeves off your vest. Say you’re talking to someone with whom you are actively engaged in an ad hominem attack. In the phrase “with all due respect,” you’ve now embedded the meta-message, “and you’re not due any respect.” “With all due respect, I think you’re a pusillanimous puke.”

In my opinion, the most personally satisfying use is the time when the object of ridicule has no idea he or she has been identified as not having been due respect AND having received the offending comment having been initially disarmed by the that initial faux-acknowledgement. It’s a beautiful Machiavellian double-entendre where that individual may actually compound the insult by acknowledging that what you have said could be true.

The skillful turning of a phrase can be one’s best psychological defense from perceived attack or one of the best implements with which to bludgeon one’s despised other in a socially tactful way.

And so, with all due respect, I must now bid you adieu as I do have some other affairs to which I must attend. My hair needs washing and my socks are due for their matching. I’m sure you understand.