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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Holding their breath and turning blue

It should be obvious that women cannot and will never be as effective as men if they are going to come right out and openly declare that they will not do their jobs because they find doing so to be offensive:
Rebecca Davies, who writes the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk, tells me that she is equally sick of receiving “books which have been commissioned solely for the purpose of ‘getting boys reading’ [and which have] all-male characters and thin, action-based plots.” What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.

Happily, as the literary editor of The Independent on Sunday, there is something that I can do about this. So I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.
Duly noted. I wonder how long this policy will last before it quietly goes by the wayside? Probably right around the time that a massively successful book explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys, is published. If I were managing The Independent, I would immediately fire both women for their open refusal to simply do their jobs and review the books that are submitted for review.

This is a particularly egregious case of the gatekeepers attempting to decide what is permissible to read and what is not. The ironic thing is that they probably think the Spanish Inquisition's list of proscribed books is one of the great crimes of human history. Would you trust these people's opinions on any book now?

The ridiculous thing is that there is nothing to prevent a boy from reading a pink sparkly book, or to prevent a girl from reading a book with a Frazetta-style painting of a young man holding a severed orc's head on the cover.

Of course, they're already walking back their idiotic public posturing: We're not planning to judge books by their cover....

Sure you're not. And if sex-specific books demean all children, don't sex-specific changing rooms and bathrooms demean all adults?

Labels: ,

94 Comments:

Anonymous Josh March 19, 2014 10:02 AM  

Has the ebook revolution trickled down to children's books yet?

Blogger Unknown March 19, 2014 10:03 AM  

Glen Beck is a bronie

Anonymous dh March 19, 2014 10:04 AM  

They don't even realize how badly they are affecting their own economic future as a whole. Boys would rather play video games. Without them and their eyeballs and income, it's over for publishing including chick-lit and female word porn that they love to read between the covers.

Anonymous Ostar March 19, 2014 10:05 AM  

Now a days the intolerant do not burn books or ban them - they simply put them down the memory hole as something that never happened. And then they ostracize the author.

Anonymous Alexander March 19, 2014 10:15 AM  

Another lesson in double-speak:

Socialize - verb - \ˈsō-shə-ˌlīz\

1. to render a child a useful citizen of the state; to promote rightthink through participation in approved activities and institutions

2. to corrupt a child with badthink and gendercrime by forcing the child to play with a model tank or a barbie, or read a glittery book; to viciously and maliciously force a child to thinkwrong.

Like 'duckspeak', the definition depends on the noun it relates to. Examples:

1. Public Schools are necessary for children's socialization.

2. "Until I see some, I can only rely on the evidence that says boys’ and girls’ tastes become different through socialisation."

Anonymous bob k. mando March 19, 2014 10:19 AM  

as with the poster 'Truth' and the idiots at PoxVop, it's simply amazing how often these people blithely make statements that they would consider completely unacceptable and offensive
if you simply swap the Object for the Subject or
if you substitute Westasia for Eastasia.

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 10:26 AM  

"In five years as a literary editor, I’ve seen an increasing number of books come across my desk which are either pink, frilly Girls’ Books of Shutting Up and Baking Cupcakes or butch, blue Boys’ Books of Fighting and Eating Your Snot. Some of them really are that blatant."

Increasing number, eh? That's a good sign.

"I’ve heard stories of writers having to change plots and ditch characters to conform to what a marketing department thinks children should read."

Those bastards!

"Why won’t I accept the evidence that boys’ and girls’ tastes are innately different from birth?
Show me the evidence and I’ll consider it. Until I see some, I can only rely on the evidence that says boys’ and girls’ tastes become different through socialisation. And socialisation happens through things like books. Why don’t we try giving children a choice, and see what they’re interested in, given free rein?"


Well there you have it. These types always seem to convince themselves that "society" is some all powerful force that creates everything they observe. They can never quite manage to ask themselves how "society" acquired its prejudices.

Anonymous Steveo March 19, 2014 10:28 AM  

I don't think that demeans what you think it demeans.

Anonymous CrisisEraDynamo March 19, 2014 10:30 AM  

I hope to God the publishing houses don't start changing what books they'll take on just because this woman says books aimed at one sex or the other are a horrible thing.

I guess we can file this under the rabbits getting nervous about losing control. Also, note the total lack of concern for boys' literacy -- it's like she wants boys to become illiterate dolts.

Anonymous hausfrau March 19, 2014 10:31 AM  

"What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them."

Because all children are %100 the same. They have the same needs, same interests, same emotional make-up.....What Borg hive did she pupate out of?

Anonymous bob k. mando March 19, 2014 10:31 AM  

Alexander March 19, 2014 10:15 AM
1. Public Schools are necessary for children's socialization.




Government schooling is about "the perfect organization of the hive."
H.H. Goddard, Human Efficiency (1920)

Anonymous Jeanne March 19, 2014 10:33 AM  

Holy stupid, Batman! As a mother of boys, I have often done things such as search the web for books *for boys*:
"Adventure books for boys",

"Science-fiction books for boys",

"Classic books for boys,
"Fantasy books for boys",

...you get the idea.

By removing this metric, all she does is make her review pages worthless to me. I would have no reason to read or utilize them. So be it.

Anonymous Alexander March 19, 2014 10:34 AM  

Crisis,

They want it both ways. As a commented (here, I believe, yesterday?) noted: In Alphabet vs. the Goddess, they inform us that written language is female oppression, because patriarchy.

Blogger Hermit March 19, 2014 10:35 AM  

Socialisation in their words is "acceptable brainwash for the greater good".

Anonymous Salt March 19, 2014 10:37 AM  

But books and toys have always been different for boys and girls? Why try to change it?

Not when I was a child in the 1970s. Nor when my parents were children in the 1950s.


What bullshit!

What she wrote here is telling -

(By the way, if I were sent a book called The Girls’ Book of You Can Do Pretty Much Anything a Boy Can Do, or vice versa, I might make an exception.

Heh!

Blogger Crowhill March 19, 2014 10:38 AM  

Didn't we try the whole androgynous thing back in the 70s? No boys' toys aisle or girls' toys aisle, just a toys aisle -- with boring stuff nobody wanted.

How long is it going to take before we wake up from this "boys and girls are the same" nonsense?

The recent "don't call girls bossy" thing is stupid for many reasons, but most of all because it assumes that we should be encouraging the same behaviors in boys and girls.

The effort is doomed to failure because of this little thing called reality, but even if it could be done I have no interest in a world where boys and girls are raised to be the same -- with the same values, same goals, reading the same books.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 19, 2014 10:39 AM  

Krul March 19, 2014 10:26 AM
These types always seem to convince themselves that "society" is some all powerful force that creates everything they observe.



of course they do.

they are playing UP the power of the gatekeeper positions because they now HOLD the gatekeeper positions ... ie - they are accruing power *for themselves*.



CrisisEraDynamo March 19, 2014 10:30 AM
just because this woman says books aimed at one sex or the other are a horrible thing.



so much for the Romance genre marketing to women ...



hausfrau March 19, 2014 10:31 AM
What Borg hive did she pupate out of?



i already quoted H.H. Goddard at you. these people have known what they were doing for at least 100 years.

Anonymous p-dawg March 19, 2014 10:39 AM  

@Krul:

The best part is, boys won't ever be able to find out if they like books aimed at either boys or girls, and girls will never be able to choose books aimed at either boys or girls - all in the name of letting the children choose what they want to read.

Anonymous hygate March 19, 2014 10:40 AM  

"When I grew up in the 1970s, and when my parents grew up in the 1950s, brothers and sisters shared the same toys, books and games"

I find this to be pretty damn unlikely unless she grew up in a "progressive" household that deliberately did not buy gender specific toys.

I grew up in the 70s and don't recall playing with my sisters' dolls, cause I simply wasn't interested in them. Nor did my sisters' show much interest in my toy guns.

I did read one of my older sister's books though. I had to sneak to do so, since it was "The Exorcist" and I was somewhere in the 10-12 YO range.

Anonymous Josh March 19, 2014 10:45 AM  

Lots of little boys play with their sisters' dolls. Usually this involves dismemberments and fire.

Anonymous hygate March 19, 2014 10:47 AM  

"Lots of little boys play with their sisters' dolls. Usually this involves dismemberments and fire."

If I had damaged my older sister's dolls I would be the one undergoing dismemberment and being set on fire.

Anonymous CrisisEraDynamo March 19, 2014 10:48 AM  

I hope this doesn't stem the tide of gender-specific books. I'm glad there was pushback from the readership, too, so there might be hope yet.

Anonymous Alexander March 19, 2014 10:49 AM  

Yeah, I don't recall that either. What I do recall is me and my brother's toy collection being pretty heavy on guns, tanks, balls, Lego, Brio, and models, and somewhat less-so on dolls and pretend ovens. But I'm pretty sure the latter existed in the 1990's, so...

Anonymous Susan March 19, 2014 10:53 AM  

This attacking the reading habits of boys has been going on a long time. When my son was of a young reading age, the bookstore would have very little that was attractive to him and age appropriate. This was back the 80's. There were shelves upon shelves of stuff for girls, whole series of books in fact.

I guess the Independent employees have forgotten the cover story one of the gatekeepers of liberalism, Time magazine, did on the "shocking" revelation of Could boys and girls actually be different?? As any good parent of sons here would say, well DUH!!

hygate, I grew up in the 60's and while I had my own toys to play with, I was very happy to play cars and other boy activities with my 3 brothers. Far, FAR more interesting to me than my toys usually were.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 10:53 AM  

Bah, reading is for sissies anywise. Little boys need to be out playing guns and riding their bikes over homemade ramps.

Blogger Anthony March 19, 2014 10:53 AM  

You know, marketing departments at publishers probably aren't any smarter than marketing departments at software companies. With a few exceptions, not explicitly saying "for boys" or "for girls" will actually expand your market. Heinlein's juveniles were often first published in Boy's Life, and they're clearly written to appeal more to boys than girls, but I'd bet that lots of girls read and enjoyed them.

Marketing those books as "adventure stories" will make it pretty clear that they're *primarily* for boys, but marketing them as "for boys" is cutting off part of the potential market. And by these ladies' ideology, an"adventure" story should appeal to girls, too.

My 6-year old daughter has a book that's almost the " Great Big Book of Snot for Boys", and loves it, and her 4 year old, much girlier sister finds the jokes funny, too.

Anonymous emdfl March 19, 2014 10:53 AM  

And fire crackers, Josh, don't forget fire crackers. I refer you to the DayByDay cartoon from 03/17/14.

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 10:54 AM  

Jeanne - Holy stupid, Batman! As a mother of boys, I have often done things such as search the web for books *for boys*

Yep. All the reviewer will do this way is make herself irrelevant to her target audience.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 10:55 AM  

"And if sex-specific books demean all children, don't sex-specific changing rooms and bathrooms demean all adults?"
And...uh...thinly veiled "hostile workplace" HATE crime, affirmative quota "action", "
I won't even start with discrimination against meritocracy.

CaptDMO

Blogger IM2L844 March 19, 2014 10:55 AM  

Show me the evidence and I’ll consider it."
No she won't. At most, she'll consider ways to spin it because, obviously, it is totally unreasonable to think that an animal with bigger muscles, faster reflexes, greater lung capacity, larger hearts with blood containing 20% more red blood cells to supply oxygen, a faster basal metabolic rate and brains that are demonstrably hardwired differently could possibly aquire different aesthetics through any mechanism (i.e. precious, precious evolution) other than societal pressures.

Blogger Galt-in-Da-Box March 19, 2014 10:56 AM  

You "just don't understand how she FEEEEEELs", Vox.
Don't you know that empty-headed emotionalism trumps all, for femin$tazi?

Anonymous Joseph Dooley March 19, 2014 10:57 AM  

I was playing cards Sunday while the Miami Heat game was on in another room. When Bill Simmons whiny voice came on, one of the women at the card table said she didn't like him because of how he got his commentary job at ESPN. I don't like Simmons, either, but it's because of his superficial, fanboy analysis.

Anyway, the woman I was playing cards with said the only reason Simmons got his job with ESPN was because he started a sports blog in the '90s, and she was CERTAIN no woman who started a sports blog in the '90s would have been considered for such a promotion.

My first thought was, How many women started sports blogs in the '90s? My second thought was, ESPN hired Sarah Spain a few years ago, who had a sports blog and wrote about the Cubs and the Bears. But her schtick is more big boobs than incisive sports nerd-dom. It wasn't her incisive commentary that got her media attention: it was whoring herself out to be someone's date to the Superbowl.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 10:57 AM  

(NSFW)
Rebecca Davies sez...
Shut up MEG.

CaptDMO

Anonymous CrisisEraDynamo March 19, 2014 10:59 AM  

@ Anthony

I guess that's another way to see it.

Anonymous hygate March 19, 2014 11:01 AM  

I don't recall any packaging that expressly stated "This stuff is for Boys" or "This stuff is for Girls" but everybody new that books about ponies and princesses were for girls and books about surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash were for boys.

Now Katy Guest is going to claim that that is socialization. Perhaps,but the claim that there were no books aimed at specific genders in the 50s and 70s is risible.

As is her premise, that having books specifically aimed at boys and girls, is inherently bad.

I've got news for her, Hunger Games, aimed at girls. Twilight Saga, aimed at girls.

Anonymous VD March 19, 2014 11:04 AM  

Marketing those books as "adventure stories" will make it pretty clear that they're *primarily* for boys, but marketing them as "for boys" is cutting off part of the potential market. And by these ladies' ideology, an"adventure" story should appeal to girls, too.

You're missing the point. An ecumenical approach is fine if you are swinging for the fences, but in most cases, you have to own your niche before you can go big. What you call "cutting off part of the potential market" is usually necessary in order to "find any market at all".

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 11:05 AM  

Susan - I guess the Independent employees have forgotten the cover story one of the gatekeepers of liberalism, Time magazine, did on the "shocking" revelation of Could boys and girls actually be different?? As any good parent of sons here would say, well DUH!!

Personally, I need look no further than my nephews and neices.

I've read accounts of parents "encouraging" their kids to play against type - trying to make their boys play with dolls and girls play with trucks, usually in vain - but I've never seen examples of children doing this on their own. In my experience, "boys will be boys and girls will be girls". Does anyone have different experience?

Anonymous Josh March 19, 2014 11:06 AM  

I think girls would be much more likely to read books written for boys than vice versa.

Just like women are always trying to figure out just what mysterious things guys are doing when they drink beer and watch football or fix stuff.

Anonymous Heh March 19, 2014 11:07 AM  

And if sex-specific books demean all children, don't sex-specific changing rooms and bathrooms demean all adults?

Oh you scoff but nothing is so stupid that the Left won't try it eventually.

I grew up in the 70s and don't recall playing with my sisters' dolls, cause I simply wasn't interested in them.

There was one time that my Army men captured Ken and had to torture him as a suspected Communist spy and definite pansy.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni March 19, 2014 11:08 AM  

Wow, publishers must be doing great! Now their job is not to figure out what books will sell, but to force their authors, authoresses and readers to write and buy only politically correct books, as defined by editors, whether or not that kind of book will sell.

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 11:15 AM  

Another point of contrast: critters.

In my experience, boys are more likely to be fascinated by snakes, lizards, frogs, bugs, spiders, slugs and other creepy crawlies. Girls are more likely to be frightened or disgusted. Which is why I put spiders on them as a child.

Not universal, though. I've met a fair number of men and boys who hate bugs or snakes or spiders, it's just not as common as with women/girls.

Anonymous Salt March 19, 2014 11:19 AM  

In my experience, "boys will be boys and girls will be girls". Does anyone have different experience?

My sister liked playing cowboys and indians, but always as the indian; called herself Tonto. She had no interest in Tom Swift but read Nancy Drew. I do not recall her ever having a chemistry set. She had no interest in boy things, generally. Good thing too as I once wired her room for sound and listened in on her and her friends conversations.

Once, age eight or so, I had a wood toy set you could make things with. I made a crossbow powered by rubber bands. Shot a bird with it.

Anonymous Viidad March 19, 2014 11:28 AM  

On "critters:"

Part of the fear there seems to be the actions of the parents. If they're the "OMG SNAKE GET THE SHOVEL!" types, then the kids tend to be as well.

My kids don't have any problem with snakes, possums, spiders, etc., because my wife and I both try to avoid explosions of disgust over these creatures. My work in creating natural food production systems also relies heavily on the checks and balances God created. For example, which would you prefer on your property? One black racer snake... or 10,000 roaches? One spider... or a thousand flies? In that perspective, grabbing the bugspray or the shovel makes a lot less sense... and the kids are picking that up, too, in varying degrees. My daughter tends to pick up little creatures and "mother" them... my sons pick up creatures to prove their bravery.

Anonymous zen0 March 19, 2014 11:29 AM  

@ Joseph Dooley

Anyway, the woman I was playing cards with said the only reason Simmons got his job with ESPN was because he started a sports blog in the '90s, and she was CERTAIN no woman who started a sports blog in the '90s would have been considered for such a promotion.

You missed your big chance to say that Simmons got the job because he once wrote "Women ruin everything."

Think of the fun that would have ensued.

Blogger JCDaedalus March 19, 2014 11:29 AM  

@Alexander: They want it both ways. As a commented (here, I believe, yesterday?) noted: [...]

'Twas me on Alpha Game.

As for this, it'll be utterly hilarious to see this women fume over innocent boys and girls still going for the books that appeal to them rather than what she thinks is fair and equitable.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 11:44 AM  

I didn't read a whole lot as a boy. Probably affected my grades as I stayed a C student throughout High School and College. I played outside a lot and my favorite "toys" were plastic plane and ship models and army men. When my interest in girls started peaking I seem to have spent more time blowing my "toys" to smithereens with cherry bombs and M80s than actually putting new ones together. My favorite authors in school were Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. I imagine because they were great writers and they wrote about the life of young boys and their view of the adult world.

Blogger IM2L844 March 19, 2014 11:44 AM  

They want it both ways.

One has to be impressed by the ability of the cake eater's mind to compartmentalize in order to avoid the effects of sever cognitive dissonance that would normally be the result of consistent application of standards. It's so common that it's become exasperatingly pedestrian. Yet, it's so flagrantly conspicuous that it continues to astonish.

Blogger Anthony March 19, 2014 11:45 AM  

Vox, as Hygate noted right above you, an author narrow it down even more than "for boys" or "for girls". It's an adventure story, or Cowboys and Indians, or Princesses, or ponies, or cute critters, or something. And most of those tend to skew petty heavily to one sex or the other. But unless you're writing "The Dangerous Book For Boys" making it to blatant beyond the basic theme of the book is cutting off potential sales.

I'd also suspect that those books which are most heavily marketed as being just for boys or just for girls are more formulaic and less interesting than those where the author wanted to tell a story. Kipling's Jungle Book and Just So Stories are better than most children's books these days, and they're not obviously for boys out for girls, though they'll definitely attract more of one than the other.

Blogger CarpeOro March 19, 2014 11:46 AM  

I read one of my mother's Romance novels once. It was a decent mystery story. I just never felt inclined to read another because while it was a decent story the focus was primarily on the characters feelings versus actions. Just not compelling enough to draw me into reading anything else by that author or remember more than a vague frame work of the story.
If she is waiting on studies for every aspect of life before she recognizes the basic facts of life she lives in a very sad state.

Anonymous Jimmy March 19, 2014 11:48 AM  

With a 5 year old daugter at home, I didn't encounter the gender specific books issue. Most books are gender neutral especially the classics like Dr. Seuss. I think furry animals, the alphabet, numbers, airplanes, and cars appeal to both boys and girls. You have to learn what they are first before you can start appealing to the differences. However, she has largely enjoyed dressing up as Disney princesses, and her favorite books are Dora The Explorer, her monkey friend Boots, and Diego. She loves her Hello Kitty airplane toy.

The reviewer is ridiculous because she argues that any gender neutral books should appeal to both genders when that isn't the issue. Why should she be so offended because the books cater to what some girls or boys like and the publishers are the ones taking the risk that half the population won't buy a book? She should be more worried that people are just not buying books at all. I haven't since I received two big boxes of hand me down books whose kids outgrown them.

Blogger RobertT March 19, 2014 11:48 AM  

I remember when MBO was the management craze and all Fortune 500s were putting it into practice. In case you don't know, this is a stupid system where your direct reports devise a list of objectives to be accomplished in the coming year and pass it up to you and you do the same thing ad infinitum until it reaches the CEO. And this comprises the corporate objectives for the coming year. You can imagine how stupid these things can get. It flips the entire management structure on its head. I was once on the board of directors of a hospital years later who did the same thing as it tried to manage itself into complete failure, Fortunately a change in CEO saved the hospital. But I do remember one thing that even this silly system got right. The fundamental objective of every business in the world is to survive, and the second objective is to make money so they can survive. If your employees start dictating to you what they will and won't do, you have lost control of the ship. Time for a new CEO.

Blogger Desdichado March 19, 2014 11:54 AM  

they are playing UP the power of the gatekeeper positions because they now HOLD the gatekeeper positions ... ie - they are accruing power *for themselves*.

Well, the illusion of power, anyway. As the gatekeepers find their roles more and more meaningless, the illusion is quite a bit more tattered than it used to be, but a lot of folks cling to it all the more sharply nonetheless.

Anonymous dh March 19, 2014 11:56 AM  

Heh.. MBO may go down as the stupidest ideas of the 50's.

Blogger Chris Ritchie March 19, 2014 11:56 AM  

Wow. As a parent with a veritable library of children's books in our house, I can tell you our children read all kinds of books. The boys do tend to like the action based books better, while the girls delight in the princess books. And of course we don't enforce reading ONLY a certain type of book. That said, we are actively censoring the homosexual lobby's favorite books. Heather Has Two Mommies will never be seen in our house. We want to inculcate gender norms in our kids. I want to boys to learn how to be men. I want the girls to know how to be the best women they can be. Complementary, not equal.

I think it is beautiful to see how a man and woman are strong in different areas and then complement each others' weaknesses. Contrary to post-modern egalitarian thinking, this doesn't denigrate them, it shows children how they truly are unique. We are uniquely suited to certain tasks. A man could no more deliver a baby than a woman could physically out-match a similarly sized man. When the Leftists seek to destroy those roles, they are in fact destroying what makes all of us unique. Of COURSE there are exceptions. But you don't build strong societies and cultures on exceptions. When everyone is equal, everyone is equally average. Equality brings everyone to the lowest common denominator. I love the Rush lyrics from "The Trees" And the trees were all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw.

Never forget that what these authoritarian Leftists want to do is painfully cut everyone down to size. That makes us all easier to rule over in their deluded fantasies. Vox is right. These women should be fired.

Blogger Outlaw X March 19, 2014 11:58 AM  

My mother asked me some time ago why men slam doors like the microwave and refrigerator? I told her they are not slamming the door they have more fast twitch muscles and it appears to women that they are. She thought men were more angry than women, but then she understood and said, thanks. Maybe that's why these women can't see the difference physiologically between the two sexes, and hadn't thought about it.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 12:00 PM  

In five years as a literary editor, I’ve seen an increasing number of books come across my desk which are either pink, frilly Girls’ Books of Shutting Up and Baking Cupcakes or butch, blue Boys’ Books of Fighting and Eating Your Snot.

Well, duh. That's because you morons insisted that we needed lots of entertainment that stressed Girl Power, which left nothing boys were interested in except fart books. That should have been predictable. (Although I doubt very many of the girls' books are really about shutting up and cupcakes; I bet far more are about slaying dragons or being president or other feminist Girl Power fantasies.)

When I was a boy, I read all the Hardy Boys and all the Nancy Drews, all the Henry Huggins and the Beezus and Ramona books. Whether the main characters were boys or girls or both, they were enjoyable because they didn't try to promote either one at the expense of the other. The kids didn't ask for that to change; the publishers and reviewers did.

By the way, if you're looking for informative books for boys and girls, check out The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Book for Girls. (I've only seen the first one, but the one for girls looks similar.) They were only published a few years ago, but they have a look and feel from a century ago, and they manage to present topics of interest to boys or girls without being insulting about it.

Blogger RC March 19, 2014 12:04 PM  

These types are so judgmental, arrogant, and querulous, that I cannot fathom spending three seconds in the same room with one of them. I just took a gander at my kid's book shelves. I'm quite confident that Ms. "literary editor" woman would have a book burning party at my house. I guess my next submission to them will have to take this new stance into consideration: "Design Limit Reloading for Boys and Girls."

Blogger Marissa March 19, 2014 12:06 PM  

Kipling's Jungle Book and Just So Stories are better than most children's books these days, and they're not obviously for boys out for girls, though they'll definitely attract more of one than the other.

I've been listening to Youtube videos of Kipling's poems lately...that man couldn't not be masculine if he tried. He's definitely an interesting character.

Anonymous pseudotsuga March 19, 2014 12:21 PM  

The woman in question clearly doesn't want to be a reviewer--she wants to be a Force for Change (tm)! Because goodthink!
She apparently never knew that there are three types of children's books: those which boys like, those which girls like, and those which can be enjoyed by both. I suppose she thinks that her business can stay afloat by pandering to 1/3 of the market, rather than all of the market.
There are many books which re-create high school girl culture, which certainly appeal to certain girls' tastes (but not ours--fashion focus and boy drama are not where we want our girl's mind to be). Books like Captain Underpants lean so heavily boy that they are parodies of themselves. But in this reviewer's world, there can be only one kind of book to bring them all, and in the groupthink bind them.

Anonymous Josh March 19, 2014 12:34 PM  

I would like to see this editor review a GA Henty book.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 12:36 PM  

And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.

I seem to remember havezero difficulty getting my hands on The Hardy Boys when I was young, or Nancy Drew for that matter.

Might be harder now, with this woman refusing to review certain books.

Anonymous David of One March 19, 2014 12:36 PM  

Loopy, fruity, perverse, snooty ... that's why liberals/progressives are mentally ill.

That's why a new publishing paradigm revolution has begun!

Anonymous Jack Amok March 19, 2014 12:39 PM  

Holy stupid, Batman! As a mother of boys, I have ...

Y'know, possibly I just missed it, but I don't recall Mz Katy Guest mentioning anywhere in her column anything about kids of her own. Of course she didn't mention cats either.

Blogger The Original Hermit March 19, 2014 12:52 PM  

Our kids read all sorts of books. My daughter prefers princess books and stuff like Fancy Nancy. My son prefers funny books, but he does like adventure and fantasy. My wife bought him a couple books (the name escape me, and I can't seem to find them) with a female protagonist, that was also a mouse. I checked them out, and thought they were alright. He refused to touch them. Kids like what they like, you can subtly guide their preferences, but it's just about impossible to force it on them. As has been said before, most boys would rather not read at all than to read something they don't like.

Anonymous LL March 19, 2014 1:10 PM  

I have a 12 year old son. The books he has liked for the past 5 years are the Percy Jackson series and Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Both with boys as main characters. I just did a quick search for "books for preteen boys" and ended up on the Goodreads page. I see so many with little girls on the covers. Doll Bones? WTF??? But another section in Goodreads is "Best Books for Teen Boys." Bump up the age group a touch and the selection is better suited. Why is that? Is it moms buying books for boys versus boys buying their own with allowance money or whatever?

Anonymous hygate March 19, 2014 1:12 PM  

"A man could no more deliver a baby than a woman could physically out-match a similarly sized man"

This reminded me of something I heard on NPR (of all places) the other day.

It seems that men and women are different after all!

Different at the tissue level. This revelation came out of the fact that women, as a group, react differently to medication. For instance, they may take up a different percentage of the medication into their tissues than a man would.

Being NPR the emphasis was on how the pharma companies had failed women because the test subjects for most new medications are men. The wider implications were, of course, ignored.

By the way, its been known for some time that some medications that are safe for one race can cause harm when taken by people in another race.

Even though race is totally a social construct.

Anonymous RedJack March 19, 2014 1:14 PM  

Krul,

My five year old little girl plays with GI Joe's all the time. They marry (or are the pastor who marries) the princesses.

She also plays family with the old trucks that I have from Grandpa's house.

No my friends boy plays with dolls. They become guns, hostages, or cannon fodder for the massed assault on the ponies.

In both cases, the kids are choosing how they play.

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 1:22 PM  

hygate - It seems that men and women are different after all!

Different at the tissue level.


Considering the fact that men and women are plainly and unequivocally distinct at the molecular level - chromosomes - is it really a surprise that they're different at the level of tissues?

Anonymous hygate March 19, 2014 1:25 PM  

"Considering the fact that men and women are plainly and unequivocally distinct at the molecular level - chromosomes - is it really a surprise that they're different at the level of tissues?"

For the average NPR listener, yes, it is apparently really suprising.

Not so much of a shock to the rest of us.

Blogger CM March 19, 2014 1:26 PM  

It's not book burning if the book never existed to begin with...

Its completely legal literary abortion...

- C

Anonymous Krul March 19, 2014 1:31 PM  

Re: hygate,

I don't get that mindset. It's like having two walls, one of concrete and one of steel reinforced concrete, and being shocked when they react differently to the same stress.

Anonymous Grey Enlightenment March 19, 2014 1:36 PM  

publishers are by design by very choosy. That's why you must submit to lots of them. Or put it on amzon

Blogger IM2L844 March 19, 2014 1:38 PM  

By the way, its been known for some time that some medications that are safe for one race can cause harm when taken by people in another race.

Safer not to think about it. Just discussing such things in the open may cause heads to explode.

Anonymous rubbermallet March 19, 2014 1:44 PM  

as much as i've attempted to turn my 3 daughters into tom girls. sports, boy movies and toys, burping, farting, they've continually gravitated towards princess, fairy, and fluffy doe eye'd animal shows, toys, and tea parties. and my wife hasn't really even tried that hard. and they have outside the norm minimal social interaction with other children mainly of church, classical conversations, and athletics.

my 8 yr old is trying to enjoy the Clone Wars with me but if she could, she'd switch it to frozen in a heartbeat.

Anonymous Samson J. March 19, 2014 1:45 PM  

Children's books have gotten incredibly PC. Sometimes as a parent you've just got to shrug and realize that, well, kids are more resilient than we think, and some of this propaganda just goes over their heads or rolls off their backs. But I've mentioned before, on another site, I think, that I actually chucked one of my kids' books one time. It was a sort of Kipling for Kids that I ordered online, not having seen it, and it contained a foreword that was hilariously over-the-top in its politically-correctitude - basically saying, "Now listen, kiddos... be very, VERY careful with this material. SOME of Kipling's works are ok, but SOME of them contain BIG, BAD ideas that you aren't ever supposed to think!" Terrible.

Anonymous WaterBoy March 19, 2014 1:56 PM  

For those parents looking for classic children's books that would no doubt not be reviewed by the Independent, check out Purple House Press. They've been doing for classic children's books what Castalia House will be doing for classic SF/F.

And apparently without consideration of whether they were originally targetted toward girls or boys. They've already reprinted the entire catalog of Bertrand Brinley's Mad Scientist Club series, which were some of the quintessential boys books of the 60's (having originally been published in Boys Life magazine). There are many more in their catalog -- some for girls, some for boys, and some for both.

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 2:31 PM  

The Nazis were infamous for burning books.
The modern left sees to it they are never printed.

Blogger Desdichado March 19, 2014 2:33 PM  

as much as i've attempted to turn my 3 daughters into tom girls. sports, boy movies and toys, burping, farting, they've continually gravitated towards princess, fairy, and fluffy doe eye'd animal shows, toys, and tea parties. and my wife hasn't really even tried that hard. and they have outside the norm minimal social interaction with other children mainly of church, classical conversations, and athletics.

My daughter has several tomboyish behavior patterns, particularly with regards to entertainment that she likes, and a complete inability to avoid unnecessary daintiness--she routinely bests grown men in burping contests.

Then again, she has three brothers. And those are somewhat superficial anyway; at a deeper level, she's definitely quite feminine.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 19, 2014 2:33 PM  

Joshua Dyal March 19, 2014 11:54 AM
Well, the illusion of power, anyway.



incorrect.

as any aspiring author can tell you, the editors and publishers can hold the power of life and death over their literary career.

what's going on here is that these women are trying to expand their influence BEYOND their proper purview of whether or not a work is 'well written' or 'marketable' and they are now trying to force the children's book market into a women's studies prep ground.

Anonymous bob k. mando March 19, 2014 2:35 PM  

Holding their breath and turning blue



you know this seems completely counterproductive to me.

i'd have them bend over so i could spank them and turn their bottoms a fetching rosy PINK ... but they probably look like one of the Haydens.

Blogger Desdichado March 19, 2014 3:00 PM  

incorrect.

as any aspiring author can tell you, the editors and publishers can hold the power of life and death over their literary career.


Not anymore. That used to be true.

That was my point; making a power grab at illusory power that is already slipping through your fingers in the first place seems a bit silly.

Then again, I suspect that the children's book market is going to be slower to adapt to self-publishing and indie-publishing than other genres.

Anonymous ThirdMonkey March 19, 2014 3:06 PM  

Obviously, Ms. Guest has yet to read any books from Hank the Cowdog series. She wouldn' know good gender-specific literature if it hiked its leg and pissed on her.

Anonymous pseudotsuga March 19, 2014 3:39 PM  

[b]"They've already reprinted the entire catalog of Bertrand Brinley's Mad Scientist Club series, which were some of the quintessential boys books of the 60's (having originally been published in Boys Life magazine)"[/b]
Oh,yes, I bought that omnibus edition last year--I remember really enjoying those stories of smart kids doing smart kid things (with minimal parental supervision in spite of the risks). I wonder if these Independent reviewers would pass on those books now? Or Alvin Fernald? Danny Dunn? Corbett's Trick books? The Three Investigator books? Would they all pass the right-think test? (It might be fun to try to submit these on the sly as new books and see if they pass muster.)

Anonymous Androsynth March 19, 2014 4:21 PM  

Even though race is totally a social construct.

I guess we'll need to reclassify sickle-cell anemia as a social disease now.

Anonymous Cranberry March 19, 2014 4:47 PM  

I have two girls, 5 and 3, and an 18-month old son. The other day, my son sat still in my lap while I read him seven of Rev. W. Awdry's original Thomas The Tank Engine stories from an anthology. He loves those stories and the pictures, and the classic Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow...so do the girls.

But when I bring out Angelina Ballerina (the classics, not new Angelina) my son is not interested, except for one story, where Angelina and her little boy cousin get lost on a camping trip and fight off a phantom cat with sticks.

Sex differences in behavior have been obvious to me from day one of bringing the little guy home. And at 18 months, he already has a preference for some literatures over others. He also has a very different acuity for spatial differences, and is better at putting blocks together and sort shapes than his sisters were at this age. I find all of my kids capable on many levels in a degree according to their ages, but the boy? He's got a lot of the spatial stuff figured out already, and it took the girls a bit longer, maybe 6 more months, to get interested in and proficient with certain toys that require fine motor and visual-spatial skills.

Anonymous CLK March 19, 2014 4:51 PM  

Its not like - they only sell the boys books to boys or only sell girl books to girls - anyone can buy the books. The authors and publishers have the right to market books anyway they feel like ...

Its not always easy to get children interested in reading and its only natural to seek out subjects and characters that might connect with them.

I actually would appreciate having publishers categorize books a bunch of ways (young boy, young girls, adventure, sports, cars... ...etc) so I can find what might work without having to search through every book on amazon..

Anonymous Anonymous March 19, 2014 4:54 PM  

I was recently told that, because it is possible for white people to get sickle-cell anemia, it doesn't indicate any actual difference between the races. Seriously.

Anonymous CLK March 19, 2014 4:56 PM  

"Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and Katy and the Big Snow" --- add Good Night Moon .... wow that brings back memories of my kids... thank you.

Blogger Conan the Cimmerian March 19, 2014 4:58 PM  

a Frazetta-style painting of a young man holding a severed orc's head on the cover.

You called me? What's up, hombre?

Blogger vandelay March 19, 2014 5:46 PM  

Will I get rid of chick lit, romance or action novels next?
Not if they’re for adults, no. Adults are aware of subtle marketing messages and know how to negotiate them. They’re old enough to know what reading is available and make their own choices.


WTF?

Does this woman think kids are reading Independent reviews and then moseying down to the book store to pick out their bedtime reading? She thinks parents should be allowed to make their own reading choices (how gracious) but they shouldn't be allowed to make the same choices for their own children?

As is so typical, this is really just another attempt (though a ham-handed one) by the left to further reduce the ability of parents to educate their own children.

Anonymous ApolloK March 19, 2014 7:40 PM  

For a recent project I downloaded and read The Airship Dragonfly by William John Hopkins (1906) and Tom Swift and His Airship by Victor Appleton (1910), amongst others. The contrast between those early SF/adventure stories and the current stuff is tangible. Very inspiriting and enjoyable reads. Definitely "boy books".

Blogger rcocean March 19, 2014 8:51 PM  

Honestly, were fathers of today a bunch of faggy kids? When I was a child, no self-respecting boy wanted to read about girls, or girl stuff. Guns, wars, adventure, pirates, pets, Vikings, race car drivers, etc. No boy would've watched "Johnny Quest" if it'd been "Jane Quest." My daughter liked girl books and a few better written boy books. Boys and Girls being different is NORMAL, what's abnormal is expecting otherwise.

Blogger Duke of Earl March 20, 2014 1:38 AM  

The sickle cell anaemia prevalence among Africans is largely environmental. Using B for the undamaged gene, and b for the sickle cell form, the BB or healthy blood cell is vulnerable to malaria. The bb or homozygous damaged gene has sickle cell anaemia, but the heterozygous Bb doesn't have anaemia but is also resistant to malaria. Of course a pair of Bb parents have a 50% chance of producing bb or BB offspring, so there is a law of diminishing returns for Bb penetration in the population.

IIRC, as long as the prevalence of Bb in the population remains lower than 25% the total deaths from anaemia and malaria is lower than the number of deaths due to malaria in a pure BB population.

Anonymous Myrddin March 20, 2014 7:48 AM  

When I was a kid I stole my dad's books because all the kids' books sucked.

Then I made up stories with fighting and explosions and heroism and very few girls, and told them to my siblings.
Toward the end, I was able to trade stories for chores. They would follow me out as I went to muck out the barn, and do the work for me.

...

Light bulb.

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