I have many aspirations and not all of them include scenarios wherein I harass the adolescent motorcyclists who terrorize our neighborhood in the summer months until they beg my forgiveness and promise to sell their crotch rockets and give the proceeds to a charity that builds speedbumps on streets near playgrounds.
I also have this desire to write and illustrate picture books. And as someone who spends at least an hour a day reading picture books with my toddler, I'm beginning to realize that maybe I'm not that ill-suited for the job. I mean, I can't draw all that well, but that doesn't always seem to matter. (See above, from the amazing book "Little Blue and Little Yellow," by Leo Lionni, which seems to be entirely illustrated using torn up pieces of construction paper. But it works because it's a lovely little story: Little Blue and Little Yellow are best buds but when they hug too much they turn into a green blob and their parents don't recognize them. So they cry and cry and their tears are blue and yellow and they go back to normal. Everyone is happy.)
But then (oh good god, but then) there is this:
Let's see that close up:
Thanks a lot, Leo Lionni. You really had me going there with that sweet story about cross-color comraderie. And then you had to go and create this bloody depiction of a mouse mob stabbing a bird with a stake? I get that "Nicolas, Where Have You Been?" is a parable about prejudice and mob mentality but the blood, the stake — it's a little horrific for a children's book.
Another of my favorite questionable picture book illustrations is this one of Prudence, from "Once Upon A Potty," a very popular book for parents who are trying to convince their toddler that a toilet is indeed for pooping in. She's doing exactly what it looks like — bending over to show us her butthole. (Because toddlers don't know they have a butthole, and they need to be shown a cartoon butthole — albeit one that looks a little like it's situated on poor Prudence's lower back, am I right? — to get the concept.) It is cute. But wrong, oh so wrong.
And my favourite new illustration (which is in no way inappropriate, I just think it's hilarious) is this one from the Golden Book "The Kitten Who Thought He Was A Mouse":
|I'm a WHAT??!!|
In this scene the kitten who was raised as a mouse (by mouse parents who adopted him as a young bundle of fur) finally comes to the realization that he is NOT a mouse. He's a cat — which in mouseworld is the WORST THING EVER. Look at those eyes. That moment of understanding you are the thing you were raised to fear and hate. I wish the next illustration were of Mickey Miggs (that's the cat's name) scrubbing himself and sobbing in the shower. That's what Leo Lionni would have done.