Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jane Yolen Could Be My Bestest Friend

I used to work at a bookstore. The childrens' section was closest to the registers, and I primarily worked as a cashier. Mostly because I did not constantly bitch and moan about having to stand there all day. Like everyone else did. But I digress.

Every day, I would see customers go over to the childrens' section and talk to each other loudly about what storybooks you "had" to get. And you know what they were always talking about? Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. These customers (read: loud Southern ladies) would go on and on about how sweet this book is, how darling, how perfect it was.

At this point in my life I did not have children. So I mostly ignored them. But then? I became pregnant with the little bean that would become Scarlett. I started thinking about things like what storybooks I would read to her. So one day, I trotted over to the childrens' section, picked up this book, and looked to see what all the fuss was about.

And people? This is the creepiest book I have ever read. Seriously. It gave me the skeeves even worse than when I read Running With Scissors (which is surprisingly filthy for a bestseller that was made into a film.)

I don't often share my opinion of this book, because when I have, I have found it does not make me popular. When I told my best friend I thought it was creepy? She actually pouted. She pushed out her lip and said, "Awww, but it's so sweet." Okay. Never mind.

When a childrens' librarian recommended it to me and I said, "Actually I read it and I thought it was really creepy," she gave me this look like I was the one who was creepy. No, y'all. The book is creepy.

For a long time I thought I was alone on this. And then? I read this, in Take Joy: A Writer's Guide to Loving the Craft by awesome childrens' book author Jane Yolen: "You may adore Love You Forever, but I hear it as a story about an overbearing and smothering mother who infantilizes her son and can only tell him she loves him when he is fast asleep. I also contend that she drugs his cocoa. And that when the man's baby daughter wakes up sixteen years later and finds him fondling her in her room, she will be calling 911 and going into therapy." Bazinga!

Me and Jane, if we were ever to meet? We would be friends.


  1. There are so many creepy weird children's books out there sending strange messages of parental love. Another one I abhore?

    Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney. Another incredibly popular book in which the child and parent bunny spend the entire book competing with one another to demonstrate who loves who more.

    That parent bunny? Is all kinds of messed up.

    If your child says "I love you," with outstretched arms to demonstrate how much?

    You say, "I love you, too" and you gather your child in for a hug.

    Just saying.

  2. Hahaha! I think that one's sorta cute. Michael often argues with Scarlett over who loves who more. And he'll bait her by claiming he loves ME more, and then she'll say, "No! I love Mommy more!" Or if he says, "I love Scarlett" she'll say, "No, Mommy loves me." So I kind of like those games. Because I win without playing. But we definitely end with hugs.

  3. I totally agree. The first time I was exposed to it was at a school assembly for Ryker and the principal read it to the hundred or so people gathered. Heather actually fussed at me because my jaw as hanging open in disbelief. Although I get the message and point clearly, no other story absolutely creeps me out like this one did, especially the last few pages. Besides the mega creep factor, the storyline is formulaic, ripped off from several other books, and the rhyme scheme is amateurish at best. I'm with you all the way.

  4. Yessss! When she climbs through his window at the end? I was like "Whaaaaaaaaaat?" Ewww. I don't even remember the rest of it. I think I blocked it out. I'm always amazed when people tell me they love it. **shudders**

  5. I love Yolen's Take Joy! Now you've reminded me of it, I'm definitely going to have to search through my books for it - time for a reread.

    I really like Robert Munsch's books, but I've always thought Love You Forever is definitely for grown-ups, not kids!

  6. Creepy grown-ups? Haha, kidding! Yes, Take Joy was a really great read, so glad I found it. I really want to read Bird by Bird, too.

  7. Your ears must be burning -- I was talking with a friend at work (B&N) the other day about this book and they said the same thing, about it being creepy, and I said she wasn't the first person to try and explain that to me ;P

  8. Haha! So I told you too? Forgot that. But see? Wiser people than I share my opinion.