Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our Crumbling Civilization: Nether Parts Edition


There. For the first time in C-SM's 28-month history, that word has appeared. I would have rather it not, but it's there for comparison's sake.

It didn't take nearly as long for Susan Patron, shown here typing away, to get the word into her children's book, “The Higher Power of Lucky." She actually got it on page one.

And that, perhaps, is what got her the Newberry Medal, the top prize in kiddy lit. Create a buzz, win a prize.

In the book, the main character, Lucky, hears the word through a wall, when another character says his dog was bitten by a dog in that particularly nether part of the body.

Lucky's response is:
“Scrotum [Oops, I've typed it again] sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much. It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”
I'd argue that the real problem with Patron's presentation is the word "important," which gives the word greater weight (probably -- I haven't read the book) than it deserves. Nonetheless, the library world is a-tizzy over the mention of the body part.

It's tough for a librarian not to stock a Newberry Medal winner because, the NYT says, it's the kiddy lit counterpart to being on Oprah's book list. But many are opting not to stock it, afraid in part of the controversy that would follow a decision to stock, and in part because they don't want themselves or parents to be forced into an anatomy lesson they don't want to give.

For her part, Patron says Lucky is growing up and learning about body parts is a key part of that process. Besides:
“The word is just so delicious,” Ms. Patron said. “The sound of the word to Lucky is so evocative. It’s one of those words that’s so interesting because of the sound of the word.”
Aha. Delicious. An admission of deliberate provocation.

No mention is made in the NYT piece of Patron's child-rearing status. She's merely shown with a dog. My bet: She's not a mom, or if she is, not a very good one. A good mom would not invite this conversation among 8 year old girls, the target audience for the book. A good mom would not include, as one librarian said, a "Howard Stern-type shock treatment" because she knows controversy sells books.

But, sadly, a good mom probably wouldn't win a Newberry Medal.

Labels: , , ,