Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reviewing Bad Books

Well, I wrote the most scathing review that I've ever given to a children's book today, on a biography of Daniel Boone, written by James Daugherty in 1939. You can read it here at the Newbery Project.

I hated the artwork, I hated the style of the story, I hated its content. I can't believe it was ever given an award, even in 1940.

If I thought that any child would actually voluntarily plod through Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty, I would be more worried about it being on library shelves. It's out-of-print, so kids are unlikely to find it elsewhere. And maybe if they do happen to pick it up (like if they're doing a biography paper, for instance, like my fifth grader just finished), they'll be so mind-dulled by Daugherty's prose that they won't realize what he really says.

Sometimes it feels good to pull out all of the stops when you really hate a piece of literature. I never thought I'd do it for a Newbery Award winner, but I think that James Daugherty belongs right up there with Darla Shine and Linda Hirshman as authors that deserve the all of opprobrium that their heavy-handed propaganda incurs.

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