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useless as that yellow lemon-shaped rock :
A sort-of book review

Received in the mail this week: Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! by Katharine DeBrecht.

What's the protocol for when you receive a review copy of a book in the mail? Am I under any obligation to like it? Do I have to write nice things about it? What if, say, I think the book I receive in the mail is a waste of pulp, a detriment to society and is frightening in the way that indoctrination literature always is? Should I actually say that or should I just ignore the whole thing and, when the publishing company asks where my review is, just tell them the book must have gotten lost in the mail?

You want to know more about this book, don't you? Ok.

This full-color illustrated book is a fun way for parents to teach young children the valuable lessons of conservatism. Written in simple text, readers can follow along with Tommy and Lou as they open a lemonade stand to earn money for a swing set. But when liberals start demanding that Tommy and Lou pay half their money in taxes, take down their picture of Jesus, and serve broccoli with every glass of lemonade, the young brothers experience the downside to living in Liberaland.

That's the official blurb.

Now, I'm not a liberal. Nor am I a conservative. So it would appear I don't have a dog in this fiction-fight. But I do, and my dog is named Indoctrination. I find it not only wrong, but bizarre that people would think this book is appropriate for young children.

I'm not saying I'm for taxing kids with lemonade stands. That's a ridiculous notion. And I know the whole lemonade stand thing is just an easy metaphor for parents to use something the kids can relate to in order to make them afraid of liberals. But the whole book smacks of self righteous mockery and I hardly think this is the way a responsible, caring parent would wish to raise their children. I don't know what kind of parent reads this lesson in fear and loathing to their children at bedtime, but whoever they are, I don't want my kids hanging out with theirs.

Oh, I know. I've engaged in the mockery and name calling myself. But I certainly would never, ever, ever, put anything like this book in front of my young, impressionable children. My god. This is like a primer for Conservative Camp. Can you imagine the uproar if liberals came out with a book called Help, There's Conservatives Under My Bed, picturing two sweet little children besieged by caricatures of Reagan and Bush, holding up John 3:16 signs and wearing I LOVE GITMO shirts?

You want to a peek inside the book, don't you? Fine, I'll indulge you.

lib1.jpg lib1.jpg lib1.jpg lib1.jpg lib1.jpg lib1.jpg

As you can see, in Conservative Land, lemons fall freely from trees. Also, the kids can't spell. And wholesome conservatives have life size pictures of Ronald Reagan on their walls, and also leer at perky breasted, dress-wearing housewives. Ted Kennedy shows up to spike the lemonade (giving parents the opportunity for a little lecture on alcoholism), right before the scary clown makes the kid cry tears over Jesus (tears make lemonade of the righteous!) and Hilary Clinton stops by to kick the dog and wave some weird dildo around in the air like she just don't care.

The weirdest thing about the book is that it is all premised on the fact that Tommy and Lou had the same exact dream at the same time. That's right. The whole "Liberals are coming to get me" scenario was just a dreamed that two little boys shared. How do you explain that one to kids without getting into a metaphysical discussion about the psyche and Freud and the phallic appearance of Hillary's broccoli?

Why am I being so hard on this little children's book? Because it's a children's book, that's why. I would be just as hard on a book called "Help, There Are Republicans In My Closet!" or "Help, There's a Libertarian Hiding in My Bathroom!" if said books tried to indoctrinate children to a specific, condescending, closed-minded way of thinking. We're supposed to be teaching our kids to think for themselves, to form their own opinions and to work towards a more peaceful, cooperative America, not to further the divide between political persuasions. Right? Or am I on the wrong track here? Am I erring somehow in letting my kids be who they are and form their own ideas without giving them fodder for calling their political opposition names? Despite everything I've written here in the past, I have never brought that attitude to my kids. Any political discussions I've had with them have been open, honest and without vitriol. In fact, turns out my 15 year old is a liberal!

Anyhow, the last line - and the most disturbing line - in the book says this:

And off they went to start squeezing lemons, like the good little conservatives they were.

I'll let you disseminate that one.

lib1.jpg


"The town of Springfield was born on that day. And to mark that sweet moment, our people planted this lemon tree. Lemons being the sweetest fruit available at the time".

[I have a feeling that's the last review copy of anything I'll receive from World Ahead Publishing]

Update: For those thinking this is a parody or a put-on, please note that it is published by World Ahead Publishing. Other titles from this publisher include:

  • Their Lives - The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine
  • Thank You, President Bush - Reflections on the War on Terror, Defense of the Family, and Revival of the Economy

Some rave reviews of the book:

Highly recommended for children 6 years to adult.
Highly recommended as a start for your child's political education

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A sort-of book review
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Comments

99% of teenagers are liberals. I sure as hell was. It's not your fault.

Anyway, the book. Admittedly it's creepy. But guessing from the picture window-sized painting of Reagan and the 'I [heart] Taxes' sticker on Teddy's attache, I think it's pretty tongue-in-cheek... and that it's probably meant for kids in the way the Simpsons is meant for kids. (i.e. not very)

But if I had to explain to my purely hypothetical 8-year old, why we had to take down the xmas decorations at his school, I'd rather use this than my own expletive-heavy vitriol. [shrug]

Being married to a second grade teacher, and reading a lot of books to my kids, I can tell you that about 90 percent of children's books are about "indoctrination" in one form or another. Even Dr. Seuss (the Zax and the Sneetches, for instance) was peddling a form of politico-social viewpoint in his stories.

So I don't have a problem with the "indoctrination" angle (of course, most of them aren't quite so over-the-top with it).

What should be obvious is that it's a crappy story with shoddy drawings and cheap rhetorical tricks that will fly over the heads of children. Are you sure National Lampoon didn't put this out? Should this be in the humor section at B&N?

As to the parenting issue, I don't think most people are as open-minded as you are about parenting. I try to let my kids be who they are, but I also try to give them some guidance (they're all under 5, so I haven't gotten to any real political questions yet). I'm sure when they are older, we'll butt heads at some point. I'm not sure what I'll do when my kid brings home the latest misogynist, violent hip-hop album.

Thankfully, that's a few years away.

Ooops. Don't hit return when you mean tab.

Anyway, ew. Surely they are kidding and it's really for adults. Ew.

Meanwhile, that Led Zeppelin song is now stuck in my head.

Yeah, gotta be a joke. I bought "Politically Correct Bedtime Stories" awhile back "The Three Codependent Goats Gruff" and such. It was decently funny.

Panera Bread has the best not-homemade lemonade ever. When me and my liberal-commie-atheist-christian-bashing-puppy-eating leftwing buddies take over, I vote me nationalize Panera Bread lemonade first.

Propaganda, that's what I'd call that garbage.

What happened to The Giving Tree? I'll take those values anyday.

you oughta see Help Hillary - My son's giving blowjobs to Republicans

I thought There's a Marxist Under the Rug was quite heartwarming.

So...when's The Boogeyjihadist, Three Little Pachyderms, and That Socialist Bitch Goldilocks and the Three Patriotic Bears coming out?

I'm hoping it's a joke.

Wow. I don't know what to think.

I'm off to consult with the Lorax about the exploitation of that solitary lemon tree.

How the hell did some PR flack read this blog and think sending you this book would do their imprint a bit of good?

TC, I'm guessing said flack was reading ASV back in mid last year, when this blog was tilting against the far-out Left. Decisions made in a corporate environment tend to have a certain... inertia.

For now, though, I need to find that libertarian in my bathroom. I swear he's been raiding my stash.

'The Giving Tree' is a bit mom-centric for my tastes. Balance is restored once I make my son listen to 'Cat's in the Cradle'.

I figure we have Mother's Day and Father's Day covered for the next 30-40 years.

As for the Lemonade Book - I find myself doing with books what Homer Simplson does with movies - if they're boring I just insert a car chase to liven things up.

I imagine during this book Speed Racer would show up to buy a glass about page 3 and the next half hour or so would be spent describing Speed's driving, what he saw, giving the back story about the Mach 5 and how Pops developed a low emission/high output engine that ran on ... well, lemonade ... and that the evil auto companies were pursuing Speed to get the car and its engine ... meanwhile the liberals were trying to shut down the lemonade stand

... so the little boys decided to become libertarians. They moved to a mountain hideaway where other like minded people lived and grow tobacco and sell cigarettes to adults who were fully informed as to the risks of smoking, but decided to use them anyway.

They were the best cigarettes ever.

The end.

.... I really should to stop drinking before telling bed time stories.

Is the book self-published? 'Cause if not, I gotta believe it's a joke, that it's a parody aimed at adults.

I can see someone, working on their own with a "vanity publisher" who will say anything is good as long as the check is, thinking this might be something kids would go for, but if a real publishing house was involved...well, that's just scary.

The kids I know? If they read it (at least, based on Michele's description and the sample illo's), they'd be rolling their eyes all over the place and using the phrase "piece of crap."

"Heavy-handed" doesn't begin to describe it.

(I'd also like to think most conservatives would look at this and go, "Um, no.")

I'm not saying I'm for taxing kids with lemonade stands. That's a ridiculous notion.

While the taxing analogy was fictional, demanding tykes having permits is not, but is equally ridiculous.

I believe this is so purposely over-the-top it is satire.

It's a false flag operation. Gotta be.

For those who think this is a parody or fake, please see my update on the post.

BumperStickerist, or you could just drop in a cave troll or two. A decently buffed-out cave troll can improve any narrative.

It's not a joke?

"Oh shit, there goes the planet."

Hmm. Perhaps not a false flag operation after all. The fact that Hillary and Ted Kennedy make cameos suggests it's really aimed at adults, though.

The art sucks, too. Ew. Propaganda art.

Amateurs.

Give me Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel any day.

Oops! Someone forgot their sense of humor this morning!

Are you talking about me, NDH? If the book was supposed to be funny, I'd laugh. But it's not.

Believe me, if you think this is outrageous, you have never seen public school textbooks. They are exactly the same thing in reverse -- and you're forced to pay for them, and you don't get a choice in whether your kids read them.

Although I do agree this is very amusing.

Now, picture your kids being forced to read it. Not so funny anymore.

Welcome to our public schools.

It's a false flag operation. Gotta be.

You, "Allah", are the reason garbage like this gets published and reviewed positively. You're willing to say, and maybe even actually believe, anything you can come up with about liberals that puts them in a bad light. I think you're missing a Hannity Youth meeting right now, so run along.

Dave, give me some examples. My kids go to public schools - they are 12 and 15 - and I have never seen anything like this in their required reading or textbooks.

They have definitely have had teachers who showed a liberal bias (they have also had teachers who showed a conservative bias) but never have I seen anything this outrageous in a textbook. And I've read them all.

The trolls go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah...

You, "Allah", are the reason garbage like this gets published and reviewed positively.

This is all Allah's fault? I mean, solely his fault? Wow. That's quite an accomplishment, Allah. You have MADE PEOPLE PUBLISH RIDICULOUS BOOKS!!

How does it feel to have all that power?

How does it feel to have all that power?

Makes me hard!

You want examples? There are dozens, thoroughly documented, in Mona Charen's book "Do-Gooders." For instance, more American kids know about the Japanese internment than can name one American general from WW II.

Liberals have owned education in America for 30 years. In that thirty years, we have tripled public education spending (even adjusted for inflation) and our students' test scores have gone from first in the world to somewhere below Latvia.

Alrightythen, let me revise and extend:

You, Allah, epitomize the mentality that allows political discourse to reach the point represented by this "book". In that respect, you are much like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and other hate-filled wingnut pundits. Or, to give you an example from "my side", you are a lot like Michael Moore... the simplistic, childish worldview; the tinfoil-hat tendencies; the casual vitriol. It's all there. Power? I don't know how much power you have, though I imagine not much, especially since you threw in the towel on blogging. But your attitude (not just on this matter) toward liberals is essentially the same as I imagine was that of the people who wrote this "book".

Clearer now?

You, Allah, epitomize the mentality that allows political discourse to reach the point represented by this "book". In that respect, you are much like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and other hate-filled wingnut pundits.

Breaking news: Pot calls Kettle black.

So you're just assuming that Allah agrees with and condones this book? That's a big leap from reading someone's weblog to conjecturing on what their opinion on a book is, especially when he already stated that he thought it was a joke.

Dave - I still don't see where public schools are passing out textbooks to my kids that say things like "Conservatives are stupid, mean and scary people and we should call them names and mock them." Anyhow, your anecdotes about the liberal textbooks doesn't work here. I'm talking about parents indoctrinating their children to hate and fear. Different subject all together.

Michele,

I don't think you would see anything quite this obviously skewed; it's much subtler, but just as pervasive. It's more a matter of what gets covered and what doesn't.

you are much like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and other hate-filled wingnut pundits. Or, to give you an example from "my side", you are a lot like Michael Moore... the simplistic, childish worldview; the tinfoil-hat tendencies; the casual vitriol.

You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better. I'm an easy target. Yeah, you're right, I talk too much. I also listen too much. I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I'm not changing. I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. 'Cause I'm the real article. What you see is what you get.

So you're just assuming that Allah agrees with and condones this book?

Not at all; I was mainly referring to the fact that Allah's comment was "It's a false flag operation. Gotta be."

Tinfoil-hattish? Check.
Simplistic and childish? Check.
Casual vitriol? Implied, and historically present.

So I'm talking about the whole picture.

In case you're wondering: why, yes! My last comment is John Candy's speech from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"! Thanks for noticing!

Would a history textbook's treatment of FDR and The New Deal be an example?

So I'm talking about the whole picture.

Eh, I took Allah's comment to mean the book was so over the top it just couldn't be real.

But whatever floats your outrage boat, bud.

You wanna hurt me? Go right ahead if it makes you feel any better.

Jesus... take the skirt off. Michele's got more balls than you.

I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you, but I don't like to hurt people's feelings.

Wait, am I talking to a different "Allah" here? Is this not the same "Allah" who, on this very blog, said:

I don't want to know people on the left, I don't want to talk to people on the left, and if I see someone on the left collapse in front of me on the street with a heart attack, I'm not even going to slow down when I step over him.

I'm sure all the co-authors of this "book" would have plenty of feeble, self-pitying excuses for why they hate liberals, too... which, I guess, makes you even more like them.

But whatever floats your outrage boat, bud.

"Outrage boat". I like that. Really, though, it's more just that every once in a while, wingnut shenanigans sort of touch a nerve. The thought of this book being presented to children as reasonable was one of those things. And Allah trying to paint it as a liberal conspiracy struck me as not only the same kind of attitude, but fairly consistent with the "quality" of his past commentary.

So what I hear you saying, Ill, is that you don't like the book. Am I right?

Let me share with you a quote that often comes to mind, and which I think will shed light on this whole situation.

"You all, coming here for your story, probably think I'm a big hero. Well, don't you know how much a man can hurt inside?"
"Uh, Frank, they're not here for you. Weird Al Yankovic is on that plane."

Words to ponder, my friend.

Liberal conspiracy? I admire your ability to read between the lines, but I, too, got the impression that Allah thought the book was satire and not serious.

But really, it's not about that, is it? Otherwise you'd just email Allah privately instead of presiding over this three-ring circus in the comments.

Allah:

Sorry... my muddled liberal brain fails to comprehend your obviously deep wisdom.

But really, it's not about that, is it? Otherwise you'd just email Allah privately instead of presiding over this three-ring circus in the comments.

Uhhh... what? That has to be one of the most idiotic/ironic/even more idiotic comments I think I've ever seen. Not only do I have no idea where you're getting the supposed standard of e-mailing vs. responding in comments that you seem to be basing your comment on, but did you notice where your comment was? In the, like, comments section, and not my private e-mail? Stunning.

Wait a sec, is this lemon tree on public land?... if so the government has every right to regulate and/or tax the lemonade. Every ECON 101 student knows that the "Tragedy of the Commons" is very real problem in a free economy and one of the few instances (along with anti-trust) where conservatives agree with government intervention... I say throw the kids in jail!!

BTW, Ill (as it pertains to messing with Allah):

"Isn't that just like a [fill-in-the-blank-slur-for-Ill], brings a knife to a gunfight"

Uhhh... what? That has to be one of the most idiotic/ironic/even more idiotic comments I think I've ever seen.

Always trying to show me up, aren't ya?

Not only do I have no idea where you're getting the supposed standard of e-mailing vs. responding in comments that you seem to be basing your comment on

Just this:
You, Allah, epitomize the mentality that allows political discourse to reach the point represented by this "book". In that respect, you are much like Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and other hate-filled wingnut pundits.
It's good drama. But in my neck of the woods, if we have a beef with someone, we don't make a big song and dance out of it.

but did you notice where your comment was? In the, like, comments section, and not my private e-mail? Stunning.

I knew you'd be back, sweetheart. I love it when you're predictable like that.

"The weirdest thing about the book is that it is all premised on the fact that Tommy and Lou had the same exact dream at the same time."

Of course they did, we here at VRWC R&D have been improving our orbital mind control rays (and making sure there was enough flouride in the kiddie's bloodstream to improve reception) since the 1950's. Our latest model can penetrate a full two inches of industrial grade tinfoil.

All joking aside, if I'm joking (insert suspicious glare here), this is kind of creepy.
Funny, but creepy.

"Featuring hilarious full-color illustrations by Reuben Award winning artist Jim Hummel"
Wow, that guy won a Reuben? There is no God.

"What's the protocol for when you receive a review copy of a book in the mail? Am I under any obligation to like it? Do I have to write nice things about it?"
Only if it's one of mine. ;-)
Shall I send you a copy of "Anywhere But Here"...?

Wow. I just had a completely original episode of The Simpsons play right here in my little head.

But wait, behind that rock!

It's a lemon!

=darwin

surely saying michele has more balls than allah makes one a candidate for a fatwah? A bigger butt than Buddha would call equally for a Michele led fatwah against the writer. Perhaps better jugs than Jesus might be more appropriate next time, though when in doubt, stick to the Romans and Greeks - more hangups than Oedipus is fine.

And with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of Shelbyville.

They had banished the awful lemon tree forever,
because it was haunted.

Now let's all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.

that Led Zeppelin song is now stuck in my head.
"The way you squeeze that lemon, ah — I'm gonna go vote for Buu-huuu-huuuuu-huuuuuuu-uuuuuussssssssssshhh!

[guitar solo]

reading this whole slew of comments, i have only two things to say:

1)I'm a 15 year old, going to a public school in Boston, one of our country's most liberal cities, even here, we have open political discussions with liberal and conservative teachers. The schools aren't poisoning us, they're giving us an ability to think for ourselves. And most schools don't have enough money anyways, so I'm open to high funding for schools.

2)Ill and Allah you both need to quit your bitching at eachother, it's fucking annoying.

Billy is the MAN.

hi Michelle,
Well, what can you say about people who are so arrogant and chauvanistic that they buy tee shirts from Rush Limbaugh's website that say: I got my Koran and Prayer Rug at Gitmo
These people are so over the top and yet they think that anyone who disagrees with them is a traitor. (Hannity once said and I heard this with my own ears, that liberals are more of a threat to this country than terrorists. )
go figure.
Vicki

TallDave said: For instance, more American kids know about the Japanese internment than can name one American general from WW II.

And that's bad? Kids can learn moral and ethical lessons from knowing about internment camps, but knowing the name of a general is pretty useless, except for continuity. What the generals did, and why they did it, is more important than their names.

Ryland,

Conservatives have been using "...before they do it to us first" to excuse their every sin for the past decade. There simply HAVE to be over the top left wing propaganda books overflowing public school libraries. Otherwise, how could people who put this crap live with themselves?

BTW, I think Billy's school sounds pretty damn liberal.

As a public high school student I will agree that many of the text books have a slanted point of view, but so do the teachers (Republican, Democratic, Liberal, or anything else), and to a certain degree, so does every person I've ever met. I can say though that students, (and again people in general) are free thinking and will believe what they want, books like this that present information (however disfunctional it may be)esp. politcal, do not automatically take over the natural thought process for its readers.

As far as internment camps and WWII, I can say from experience that, atleast in my history class, it was quite the opposite.

The book, whether claiming to be serious or satire, is quite obviously the latter. I cannot imagine any of the kids I babysit (since I am not a parent this is the closest comparison I can make) sitting down and reading this book - ever.

As far as all the comments harassing each other and said points of view, wasn't the whole discussion on a book mocking a certain group's ideals???

*** (Correction) Even if the author meant it seriously, it is taken by the general public as satire.

The book, whether claiming to be serious or satire, is quite obviously the latter.

But it's not.

To me, that book is just stupid. Why any parent would read this to a young, innocent child is beyond me. I bet the only parents who would even dream of reading this to their kids are those paranoid-homeschooling-censorship types who are terrified that their children may become "liberal". And I should say, all great stories have a message, but I have never heard of a CHILDREN'S book that is so blatant than this one. Don't read your kids this. Instead, read books that promote tolerance and love as opposed to prejudice and hate.