Monday, April 25, 2011

Bad Children’s Book Reviews: Ready Freddie

When you’re driving in a car for a long time with children, your mind turns to thoughts of suicide.  The problem is that children’s music has been shown to induce suicidal tendencies.  Of course, you can play books on CD, but there are problems with that solution as well, mainly that you have to listen to the books, too.
Recently, we’ve been listening to the Ready Freddy series.  They’re about a first grader named Freddy Thresher and his classmates and family.  My son really likes these books, and I’ve read/heard them over and over again.  On the surface, there’s nothing that bad about them; they seem well-aimed at children, but after a while, you see a great danger to children: stereotypes.

Below is the most detailed description of the personalities of many of the principal characters:
  • Freddy - Scared
  • Mom – Overprotective
  • Dad – Ineffective
  • Sister –Annoying
  • Max – Bully
  • Chloe – Priss
Notice anything?  Yeah, they’re all have one-word personalities (and I honestly couldn't come up with anything more than that).  Since these are kid’s books, one-dimensional characters aren’t all that bad.  However, I didn’t list all of the characters, only the Caucasian characters.  Here’s the African American:
  • Robbie – Brain
Nothing wrong with that.  Nothing wrong with having a smart, African American character at all.  Here’s the Mexican American:
  • Jessie – Mexican
No, seriously, that’s her entire personality.  This is what freaks me out.  She throws in random words from high school Spanish for no reason other than to translate them.  She introduces Freddy to tamales and guacamole, which of course he’s never heard of before and completely adores.  What does this do to a child’s expectation of a minority group?  Are they going to think that anyone of Mexican descent lives in a Chevy’s?

And why are the minority characters (and the teacher) perfect?  I mean, they never do a single thing wrong or annoying.  They're incredibly helpful and sensitive.  Hm.  Okay, with the Caucasians I know, that might not be all that off.

Oh, and speaking of the teacher.  Here’s her personality trait:
  • Ms. Wushy – Stupid name

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