Eliminating the Precious From Children's Literature

Flawed Dogs

The latest from Berkeley Breathed is a book called "Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster,"and it is Breathed's new illustrated novel. The book centers around an unlikely hero named Sam the Lion, who is a dachshund with a soup ladle for a leg.

Anything that brings back drama, excitement, loss, and danger--I'm all for it:

CNN: "Flawed Dogs" is put out by the "young readers" division of the publisher.

Breathed: I notice it's getting a little bit of controversy in that people are coming to it assuming that it's for the same audience that my picture books are for. And "Flawed Dogs" the novel is definitely not. It's perfect for an 8-year-old, 9, 10, 11, 12, but I wouldn't read this in the evening to my 5-year-old. And there is a difference. ...

It's revealed an issue that I'm surprised about, which is the new preciousness that's been brought to literature for children now. There is an abject fear of instilling any sort of dramatic trauma, of sadness, on the children who are receiving a story. ... And of course that was never a great concern in the past. The great children's stories that we all grew up with, there are always moments of great tragedy and moving moments of loss in the book that we weren't afraid of -- as long as you bring them [young readers] back by the end and bring them to where a reader should be, a child should be.

If they have bookstores here in Tampa, I'll be sure to try to find a copy. Anything that takes us back to the way children's literature, and good storytelling in general, used to be, I'm all for it.

Miranda has asked me to go back to reading stories to her before bedtime--she's 26 but she's been acting weird lately. Fine, I'll be happy to. I'm not reading Bonfire of the Vanities to her again. We read that book each night, each and every night, to be exact, and I often had to stop and explain the plot, the business world, Manhattan society, and all that to her as we chewed through the book. We started when she was nine, and we didn't finish until her eleventh birthday. After that, we did Stuart Little, and that only took a month. I wanted to do The Naked and the Dead, but I couldn't get my head around the language.

If this one title keeps some shit-sandwich celebrity kid's book from being prominently displayed somewhere, then an angel in heaven shall receive a pair of brand spankin'-new wings.