“One Lighthouse, One Moon” by Anita Lobel (2000)

I hope you’ll forgive this late entry, friends, but every time I tried to think back on this children’s book, I encountered the same problem I encountered while reading: I fell right asleep.

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Now, some might argue that that is the purpose of children’s books, to help children drop off to sleep so that parents can engage in…parental…activities. And others might argue that I, as a mature, intellectual adult feline cannot appreciate the simple pleasures of this human children’s book.

Friends, I would like to go on record as disagreeing with both of these arguments. The best children’s books are accessible to both parents and children, and we should expect more of children’s literature! If you give children dull, un-engaging literature then you will have dull, un-engaging children. It’s as simple as that. We cats raise our kittens to learn the skills they will need as grown toms and queens — we do not plop them down in front of a television to watch the latest pablum, nor do we hand them a boring, simpering book. Young kittens are raised on the works of Cicero, Tolstoi, Mandelbrot, and Browning! And we are, I feel I must point out, an eminently superior species to humanity. Perhaps if humans spent as much time raising their children to appreciate literature, mathematics, sciences and philosophy as they do shielding them from anything threatening or upsetting even slightly challenging… But I suppose that is asking too much. You are a lazy and a dim-witted species, with very few exceptions.

My human occasionally being one of them.

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VERY occasionally.

But is that all there is to this book? Is it ONLY dull?

Well, no. It’s also poorly organized and periodically confounding.

For one thing, this book has no narrative whatsoever, and the occasional presence of Nini the cat (which prompted my human to purchase it for me) is the only element which ties together the haphazard agglomeration of unrelated material which makes up the book itself. The first third is dedicated to singular events in a week; the second third is dedicated to singular events in each month of the year, supposedly through the eyes of a cat; and the final third is simply a series of largely unrelated numbered things, ranging from one to ten…and then skipping straight to one-hundred and one.

The author seems to lack any sense of focus or follow-through, getting partway through something and then jumping to a sudden unrelated topic. Days of the week! Months of the year! Then, cardinal numbers? Wouldn’t years in the cat’s life have made more sense? Likewise, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Then 101? What? Even Nini the cat’s presence is not consistent, as she seems in some sections to be the single unifying element…except for the pages in which she is inexplicably absent! What is going on here?

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Similarly, in the December scene the mantel above the family’s fireplace clearly displays Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chanukkah cards, symbols and ornaments, meaning that the family celebrates all three holidays. Which, I suppose is theoretically possible. Except the little girl of the family is clearly white (we never see the adults or any other siblings, if they exist), they go to church on Sunday, and she attends ballet practices on Shabbos. I suspect that the December scene was intended to make the book more inclusive, but the author clearly forgot that she had earlier clearly established that the family was almost certainly a group of white Christians.

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Yes, I’m sure this is what Numbers 15:32-36 was trying to convey.

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Those legs are HARDLY ethnically ambiguous. Even the painting of Nini is appalled at the incongruity!

There are also oddly incongruous and anachronistic features. For example, the little girl’s attire looks like something from the 1950s or 1960s, which is fair enough — perhaps the book is set back then? That would explain some of the heteronormative elements, such as the little girl attending ballet and wearing a frilly dress and saddle shoes to church; it would also explain why all the sailors on board a ship in another scene are male, and why those male sailors are all waving to a group of girls on the shore. If this is set in the first half of the 20th century, that all makes sense. BUT. The attire of the sailors looks more like something out of the 18th or 19th centuries! AND the girls on the shore are an oddly racially-diverse group, especially for the 18th, 19th or early 20th centuries.

Did she get this idea form a 1980s Benetton ad?

Did she get this idea from a 1980s United Colors of Benetton ad?

And given that Chanukkah was a relatively minor holiday until the American post-WWII period, and given that Kwanzaa was invented in the late 1960s, and given that neither decorations nor cards for those two holidays were terribly common in the United States (where this book appears to have been set) until the early 21st century… Well, this book just can’t seem to decide when or where it is set. It heads one way, then slooooooooooooooowly swings in another direction; it sets out on one path, then forgets where it’s going, dithers about in the woods, and wanders off in another direction entirely.

And that is this book in a nutshell. It feels rather like an essay written by a recreational pot-smoker — rambling, incoherent and pointless.

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But there is one final complaint which I have about One Lighthouse, One Moon. You see, this is SUPPOSED to be a children’s book. As such it should be morally above board. But what did I find towards the end of this rambling bit of pap?

 

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Censored!

 

That’s right: PORNOGRAPHY!

Flagrant depiction of bare, exposed, engorged feline nipples! Paired with a suggestive and salacious caption! Appalling! This is supposed to be a children’s book?  Have you humans no decency?

So One Lighthouse, One Moon manages to be both dull and pornographic, both totally lacking in consistency and replete with incongruous details. This book has no redeeming value, friends. Find more fitting books for your kittens!

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