July 10, 2012

Existentially-Fraught Takes On Classic Picture Books To Teach Your Kids The Meaninglessness Of Life Before The Internet Does

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Who’s Waldo?

We’re not the only ones searching for Waldo in this cutting-edge spin on Martin Handford’s interactive, picture-based Waldo series — Waldo is searching for himself.

In Who’s Waldo?, Waldo grapples with the absurdity of his existence and the impossibility of accepting death in various fun-filled, colorful illustrations depicting him at the center of nearly every existentially-pivotal moment in his life. The book ends predictably, comfortably, in a manner undeserving of most adjectives due to its innate ‘nothingness’: with a final illustration that is simply a white page, “Where is Waldo Now?” printed in small black lettering at the bottom. There’s really no better way to start a conversation with your children about death and meaninglessness than this.

The Non-Anthropomorphic Tree Devoid of Inherent Symbolism

Adapted from Shel Silverstein’s classic, The Giving Tree, The Non-Anthropomorphic Tree Devoid of Inherent Symbolism tells the tale of a tree that can’t talk, feel, or symbolize anything (because it’s a tree), and a teenage boy who regularly smokes marijuana under it. Eventually, the boy goes off to college, drops out, and takes a job as a member of the janitorial staff at a Detroit junior high school. For reasons completely unrelated to the boy, the tree is cut down to clear way for a suburban housing development.

Tommy Has Two Mommies (And He Doesn’t Talk To One of Them)

This book takes the recent trend of hyper-political correctness in children’s literature another heart-shatteringly realistic step further, educating young readers that normal families come in all shapes and sizes. Increasingly, we’re finding out that most normal families, whether the parents are of the same gender or not, have family members who despise each other.

In Tommy Has Two Mommies (And He Doesn’t Talk To One of Them), Tommy is 32 years old, married, has three children, works eight hours a day as an accountant, and is only on speaking terms with one of his lesbian mothers, since “literally forever” because “she’s always liked Dave more.” It’s never too early to starting teaching your young children the way it’s going to end up between you two in 30 years.

Where My Wild Things At?

In this book, protagonist six-year-old Max runs away from his Southern California suburb to find himself ‘Where The Wild Things At’: a place full of magic, wonder, and mysterious characters. Max doesn’t know it yet, but the band of strange and discontinuously violent/caring misfits who have taken him in are all prostitutes, pimps, producers, and dealers living in an LA meth house.

Co-written by acclaimed novelist Bret Easton Ellis, Where My Wild Things At? follows Max into the depths of addiction toward an even deeper appreciation of family, whether affluent, suburban and traditional, or poor, coked-up and intermittently homeless.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, You Are F-cked

Set in a dystopian future in which animals can access the internet, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, You Are F-cked tells the tale of Brown Bear, whose exorbitant internet usage gives way to his development of extremely niche tastes in music, film, literature, and food. Relating to other bears becomes increasingly difficult and tiring. He makes ‘internet bear friends’ who are moderately interested in the same kinds of media to compensate for the IRL friends he has alienated.

Brown Bear slowly gains more and more internet friendships with bears all over the globe until he stops speaking with IRL bears completely, adopts ‘freeganism,’ and relocates to a remote, sealed-off, wifi-accessible cave in Vermont, where he can comment on blogs, refresh his Facebook feed, and discover new music on Spotify uninterrupted. He slowly loses track of the days, weeks, and months, and then he dies, leaving behind his earthly possesions: several parody Twitter accounts portraying various other woodland animals and a Blogspot. TC mark

Karim Kazemi

Karim Kazemi (b. 1996) is a teenage boy and future proprietor of a jetpack.

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