Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trust no one with your children ...

People often look at me funny when I tell them something along the lines, "There is nothing wrong with the kids now days. The problems all have to do with their parents, teachers, and the people we mistakenly outsource our parenting decisions to."

Mrs. Salamander found a perfect example of what I mean.

I am blessed; my children are voracious readers of books. They just devour them. Personally, I should open an American Girl library, I have them all. My preteen already reads at a college level and my youngest wants to catch up yesterday.

As a result, Mrs. Salamander is always on the lookout for good books, especially those with a historical bent, as the eldest takes after her father with her interest in all thing historical. Well, Mrs. Salamander spies Adèle Geras's (the accent over the "e" should have been a warning) book Troy. What does she read on the back?
A Publisher's Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year.
A Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children.
... and so on. It is a thick book - which is good too as it will last.

What wonderful seeds are waiting in this book to sprout roots in your child's brain from this book?

Here are just a few samples.
"Come and lie down beside me," he said, taking the cup out of her hands and putting it on the flor next to the bed. "I'm sad. I haven't been as sad as this since my father died, when I was a small boy. Lord Hector - he spoke to me last night. Comfort me, Marpessa. Hold me, so that I can weep with no one to see me."

Marpessa looked at him and a dizziness came over her, so that she almost swooned. Without a word, she lay down beside him and put her arms around him. his head was on her breast. She stared over his shoulder at the wall. Oh, Lady Aphrodite, she said to herself, help me. What is happening to me? She was trembling all over.

"Look at me, " Alastor said, lifting his head level with her face. "And open your mouth."

Marpessa did what he said, and her heart...something...everything...melted like a honeycomb held near the fire, and she felt her whole body grow limp and heavy, and her mouth was filled with sweetness. She closed her eyes, and a wave of darkness washed over her as she fell back against the pillows with Alastor's weight and heat upon her. - (page 128)
...and so on.

I know, don't hate the player - hate the game. BTW, what did that take - 30 seconds - from "Hold me, so that I can weep ... " to "Open your mouth."? Impressive. I don't think even
Skippy can move that fast.

I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who says "Open your mouth" before they kiss them. That must be ... ummmmm .... Kristen, for you I will not go further.

Back to the serious things.
That's Alastor's bastard, people would say ... unthinkable. A torture. And of her, a part that she didn't want ot listen to but that insisted on being heard, said in the wicked whisper of a snake, It will be a dind of punishment for him ... for the way he as treated you. Kill his child. It's what he deserves. Kill it. Soon. Rid your womb of every particle of his being. Cleanse yourself
"...I want to kill my child"

"How old? You don't look more than a child yourself."

"Here," Marpessa held her hand to her stomach. "It's not yet born.."

Mother poison made a sucking noise through her teeth.

"It's much easier to kill the ones that are already here. There are many ways of doing that. Are you quite sure you wouldn't prefer to wait, and hold a pillow over the infant's mouth? That's simplest."
- (page 264)
Friends don't let friend's children read books written by Boomers for children until a responsible adult reads them.

Did you know there is a Teacher's Guide for this book? I only found out while getting links for this post.

The Teacher's Guide states,

Troy and Ithaka are companion novels appropriate for readers in grades nine through twelve, or students ages fourteen to eighteen.
Ok. That is one definition of child - but perhaps on the back of the book they should be more specific ... and to many of us, a strong reading child is 9-12 years old. - the exact type that is attracted to Harry Potter length novels.

I am lucky that Mrs. Salamander has a good Mother's Sense about things. We've been burned before with "recommended children's books" lists. What is it about some adults that they think that children should be fed Penthouse Forum Lite stories and the worst parts of human nature - all packaged in post-modernest prose that is barely readable? I don't know, but they are sick people.

I'll take the sex and violence in the classics - they have stood the time of centuries and are fairly opaque. But this stuff? Plenty of time for such things in life. Can't we let 12 year olds be 12 year olds?

Even going beyond the 12 year olds, aren't there plenty of novels to give 9th graders than ones that have descriptions of head games for oral sex and pondering on if it is best to have an abortion or commit infanticide?

If not - then perhaps "Children's Book" has a very different meaning today. In the end, this only reinforces the fact that outside your house's door, no one is really looking after your child's childhood but you.

As a side note - if you really want to know why her book gets recommended - think about who runs the education schools and populates the education bureaucracy. Then read this review.
With exceptional grace and enormous energy, Geras recreates the saga of the Trojan War from a feminist perspective, ...
- Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Great. Doing for the Trojan war what Dan Brown has done for Catholicism.

Anne - it continues to be a shame you and Mrs. Salamander never met.

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