Book Notes: Neil McFarlane’s A Month of Bedtime Stories

I don’t review the millions of kids’ books I read but I absolutely have to write about this wonderful book. It’s just $2.99 on Kindle, and worth 10 times that.

The book contains 30 longish stories that provide me and Klara with oodles of enjoyment. We read each story dozens of times, so I’m calculating that the book will take us at least to May.

The stories are told in the second person. A parent (who can be mom or dad) addresses a kid (who can be a boy or a girl). The kid has all sorts of amazing adventures but forgets them, and the parent narrates these magical events to the kid. This me-and-you structure in every story is absolutely genius for toddler audiences.

The best part, though, is that the author inserts in every story little tidbits that are very playful, very meta and addressed to parents. As every parent knows, toddler books are excruciatingly boring (I hate you passionately, Daniel Tiger, Fancy Nancy and Paw Patrol). An adult brain slowly dies through every painful rereading. But this McFarlane fellow clearly understands that and gives a bit of brain food to adults here and there in every story.

The stories have absolutely no didactic purpose whatsoever. And thank goodness and the kind, talented Mr McFarlane for that! One gets literally rabid after all of the utterly inane moralizing in children’s books. If you can’t just tell an interesting story that holds our attention because it has a cool plot, then don’t try to cover that up with stupid moralizing.

Aside from the gifted author of Llama Llama, the literary parents of the quaint old Bernstein Bears, and the absolutely genius author of Press Here books, the authors of toddler lit are the most annoying, dumb, talentless creatures I can’t wait to get rid of as soon as Klara outgrows them. Have any of you read the books about Biscuit? Or Clifford, the big red dog? The authors owe a huge debt to society.

It’s the parents’ fault. They hound any writer who’s not excruciatingly inane. Have you seen the Amazon reviews of the extremely cute Pout Pout Fish? Or some of the Bernstein Bears books? (Look at the reviews of Bernstein Bears Get the Gimmies if you want to lose faith in humanity). The Pout Pout Fish is criticized because a friendly fishie cheers up a sad fishie by giving him a kiss without seeking affirmative consent, which of course teaches toddlers to become rapists. Obviously. Also, trying to cheer up a sad fishie is in itself abusive because, once again, rapists.

McFarlane is British and has this very endearing, dry sense of humor that allows him not to care about being PC and well-liked by state school apparatchiks.

I can’t wait until Klara is old enough to enjoy books by Frances Hodgson Burnett, who is the best children’s author ever. I’m calculating it’s going to be about a year before she’s ready for those. In the meantime, I’m glad we have McFarlane.

Crime Rate Narrative

I familiarized themselves with the right-wing narrative of why NYC’s murder rate dropped from 2,500+ to 333 in 20 years.

Can anybody briefly tell me what the left-wing narrative is?

It’s always a good idea to hear both sides, and I’d really like to know if this is something anybody is going to try to replicate in St Louis.

I Don’t Get It

Buttigieg has surged to first place in Iowa according to a new Des Moines Register/CNN poll. He leads the pack by 9 points while Warren, Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) are in a close battle for second. Despite his lead in Iowa, Buttigieg is in fourth place nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

I very very honestly don’t get it. I just don’t. I can disagree with Warren or Bernie but Buttigieg doesn’t even merit that because I haven’t heard him utter a meaningful sentence ever. Is it because he’s young? I honestly see no other winning point about him. He’s a privileged fellow, he has no experience doing anything of interest in politics, he has no signature issue, what is it people like about him?

Ethnic People

I opened a ballot from my union and discovered a vote for an “ethnic minority candidate.” Threw the ballot in the trash.

It gets worse, though. I recently heard somebody say that “we need to hire more ethnic people.”

I’d respect these freaks more (although not much more) if they just said openly “non-white people.”

Close and Far

Today I talked to a lady whose father was wounded in WWI. You think it was a million years ago but it’s actually very historically recent.

“My family lives far away…” the lady sighs. “I sometimes really miss them.”

“Where are they?” I ask in my most compassionate voice.

The old lady names a town 11 miles away.

Her idea of time is like my idea of space. WWI feels as close to her as Montreal or Chicago feel to me.

Interiorizing Austerity

The supposedly pro-climate narrative of “eat fake meat, live in pods, don’t use AC, don’t enjoy life, etc” is the perfect example of how people interiorize austerity. They no longer need institutions that exist outside themselves to punish and control them. They have placed the austerity comissar inside themselves.

Obviously, none of this self-punishment helps climate. Climate is just an excuse.

#MeTooing Bernini

Thomas Campbell, the director the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, praised the “compelling, hypnotizing, even inspiring” elements of the piece. “And yet . . . ” he added, “I am now struggling to recalibrate my thoughts on this work because a subject that I used to regard almost as an academic premise for virtuoso sculpture—abduction scenes are, after all, common in renaissance and baroque art—seems much less academic two years after the start of the ‘Me Too’ movement.”

I was following links about Renaissance and Baroque sculpture, looking at beautiful images but you can’t hide from this inane wokesterism no matter what you do. God, I wish these creatures at least left art in peace.

How can a person – an art museum director, no less – not perceive as a sacrilege even mentioning something as inane as #Metoo in the same sentence with a work of art? These people will soon start censoring ancient Greek mythology for not promoting the latest flavor of woke orthodoxy.