More pictures – from this weekend’s mini-festival affectionately referred to by everyone except Jon as Jonstock 2003, in the New Forest.
Monthly Archive for August, 2003
Just following through on that Scabs book, I looked at some more from the same series, and the publisher’s comment on Breasts is great:
In defense of poop (and breasts, and gas…)
We’ve received a lot of publicity over the years for our My Body Science series – some good (well, most good), some bad, some silly and some a little frightening. Titles like EVERYONE POOPS and THE GAS WE PASS have attracted the attentions of Rush Limbaugh, the New York Times, Playboy Magazine, and countless others. None of it though, has really addressed what we think of as the most important issue. These are books for children. It doesn’t matter if adults think a book about farts is gross, or if the cover of BREASTS makes them uncomfortable. These are basic science books for children and they give children information that they want and need in a way that they understand. We’re not crude. We’re not sensationalists. We are a child focused and child oriented publishing company. And the My Body Science titles are child centered and child oriented books.
Kane/Miller’s commitment to publish foreign children’s books is based on the belief that foreign children’s books display an other than American sensibility that in some ineffable way enriches a child’s reading and life experiences. We feel that all of our books are very special – totally accessible to young children in that they are entertaining, instructive, funny, and whimsical too.
So, when we found this wonderful series of science books from Japan, we didn’t even think about what the adult reaction would be. It didn’t occur to us that some stores would find the titles of the books offensive and not carry them. It didn’t occur to us that adults would buy them for each other, but not for their children. It didn’t occur to us that some children’s bookstores would refuse to carry them. It didn’t occur to us that we would get hate mail. It didn’t occur to us that reviewers
would call us prurient. We just knew that children need their questions answered in a way that they can understand. We knew that these books could do that. We did expect that Bill Gates would announce on the Rosie O’Donnell show that EVERYONE POOPS was his daughter’s favorite book. We did expect that Pediatric Gastro-enterologists would keep copies in their waiting rooms. We did expect that hospital gift shops would stock them and that day care centers would treasure them. We expected all that. We never expected we would have to defend them.
Yes, they are funny. Yes, they are silly. (They are also factual). They make kids laugh – good, honest, open laughter. “Here is a book” kids say, “that knows what’s what”. Studies show that laughter can reduce pain and stress, and stimulate mental functioning. A little honest open laughter is healthy. It’s necessary, and it’s comforting for kids to know that it is okay to laugh. Because while they are laughing they are also learning. (Although, truth be told, some kids don’t laugh. My two year old listens to EVERYONE POOPS- over and over and over again- with a very serious look on his face. He is very happy to hear that everyone poops. It’s comforting. It’s information he needs and information he understands).
We all need information, we all need to laugh. But we also need not to lose site of the fact that kids books are for kids. If a book is for a very young child then when we read it, we must try to remember what is important to very young children. A review of BREASTS in the library review journal KIRKUS suggests that instead of BREASTS, libraries stock a book called It’s Perfectly Normal. It’s Perfectly Normal is a perfectly wonderful book, but it is for much older children. BREASTS is for very young children. It is for the three year old with the new baby sister who watches her mom breastfeeding and wonders what is happening. It’s for the four year old who is just discovering her body and asks questions. It’s for the five year old who wants to know if she will look like Barbie when she grows up. BREASTS is for very young children. The My Body Science series is for very young children.
Children are curious. Children have questions. Children want their questions answered in a way that makes sense to them. The My Body Science series makes sense to them.
I went for a cycle ride at about 6am today – wanted to catch that amazing wispy blue sky before the day opened up properly. Didn’t go very far – just across Walkley and through Bole Hill Park. In the park, I noticed the BMX track… hmmm, nobody about to make a fool of myself in front of except for one solitary dog-walker, and I felt like doing something new, so I swerved onto the track. Amazing just quite how uppy-and-downy those things are, I kept feeling like my mountain bike was too long, it would almost get grounded between dips. But somehow I got around the thing, all except for the last rise where I didn’t quite commit myself enough, hence didn’t have enough intertia to get to the top. I started sliding backwards, had to run swiftly in reverse to keep the bike from toppling onto me. It reminded me very much of the last time I tried something perhaps a little foolish on my bike, 13 years ago when I cycled back from a lecture to find that the local kids had set up a temporary jump on the wasteland next to our house by laying a plank over an upturned bench. I saw it there and was reminded of doing the same thing myself as a kid – fond memories were instantly revived inside me and I turned my bike towards it on the way to the back gate, “one more time for old time’s sake” I told myself. But literally halfway along the plank my mind wavered, “this is quite steep, quite high” I told myself, and I stopped pedalling for a nanosecond. My bike reached the end of the plank and tipped me unceremoniously forward over the edge. I ended up skidding along the grass on my face, which was three-quarters covered in scabs for the next few weeks (reminds me very much of one of the kids in All About Scabs, the book I recently bought for Rowan, but which Lola has adopted as her own).
The usage stats just keep on getting better – since the server went back up at the weekend, a stunning three people have reached my website by typing the words "japanese spider crab" into a search engine! Somewhat alarmingly though, one person got here by using the words “child pee”. Uh-oh, and I’ve just doubled this site’s relevance for that phrase (I won’t increase it further by making a link – the page that takes you to is the anti-war demo on, click on “anti bush” below).
Some other nice ones: "people pointing", "building websites that kids can do" and "anti bush". Problem is, I now want to trawl the raw log files and work out exactly where these people come from and which pages they ended up at. Join in the fun yourself
Cool… I never realised quite how popular sumption.org was, but since it’s been back online for two days it’s had, well, only 83 visits but that’s not too bad, and most of them from people I don’t know. And as ever, some interesting search terms, most of them generated by my very old CD database pages:
|Top 14 of 14 Total Search Strings|
|1||2||13.33%||super bon bon|
|5||1||6.67%||giant japanese spider crab|
|7||1||6.67%||john zorn masada alef|
|9||1||6.67%||london zoo gorilla|
|10||1||6.67%||sculpture park henry moore|
|11||1||6.67%||sea life centre|
|13||1||6.67%||very very circus|
|14||1||6.67%||winter street hospital sheffield|
Oh, I am glad to have webstats back up again!
I am listening to the future of music! Eigenradio – The top 20 singular values all day, every day!
New photos – ’twas the night before Antwerp… yay, means I might finally get on to my Belgian adventure soon (then Wales & Druidstone…)