Constance November 4th, 2006
Celebrities as authors of childrens’ books — and so successful they are too!
For true snarky attitude toward same, that no one could do so well as a member of the British literary critical community (and I intend this in the best of ways!), I’ve quoted a sample from the article.
As to why They Do It:
“But the most plausible explanation, I think, is this: “I’ve been making up bedtime stories for my children and suddenly I’ve had a brainwave. These stories are good! These stories are brilliant! I would be failing in my moral duty to my adoring public if I did not put them down on paper.
“If my theory holds true, it is scary, because it suggests that celebrities believe the hype about their own abilities.”
” … Well, if you are looking for the next Beatrix Potter or Maurice Sendak, you will not find it here (Sendak is top of the Times list, but he is looking rather beleaguered). As Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children, puts it: “Celebrity books are one of the great negative features of children’s publishing in the 21st century. If I were still a publisher, as I used to be, none of these manuscripts would make it past my slush pile.”
“Rule one: why use simple names for characters when you can invent fanciful and, frankly, ridiculous ones? The celeb authors probably think they are being Dickensian, but they just come across like Salman Rushdie on one of his flowery days. Madonna stands out in this regard. Meet the English Roses’ new teacher, Miss Fluffernutter. If that doesn’t convince you of the author’s creative prowess, eight pages later we are introduced to Candy Darling (yes, we know, Andy Warhol’s chum) and Bunny Love (that’s more obscure, but Google does turn up a video of a flesh-and-blood rabbit trying to mate with a cuddly toy). And we’ll pass over the four brothers, Timmy, Terry, Taffy and Tricky.
Rule two: make sure you have a moral point to make, and ram it home to your young readers. At risk of sounding like a literary stalker, Madonna leads the pack here yet again. “The next time you start to feel jealous of someone, try to feel happy for them instead. Good things will come your way, too.” And: “You can’t just love your friends when they are nice to you. That’s when it’s easy. You have to love them when they are being complete dorks, too.”
My Personal Favorite Snark:
Noelle’s Treasure Tale by Gloria Estefan
They don’t come worse than this. It’s hard enough getting beyond the cover, which bills the story as “A new magically mysterious adventure”. What kind of grammar is that? It’s always a mistake to write in verse if you are incompetent as a writer. And this verse is truly, truly awful. It is a challenge to find the most clunky rhymes, but try this one: “Glaring under some brush like two marbles they shone/ eyes that stared at Noelle like a dog at a bone.” That is Estefan’s description of a cat.”
You get the idea!