Tonight, I got the distinct feeling that not everyone involved in producing nonfiction books for children actually likes nonfiction.
Four-year-old F’s bedtime story was a slim paperback about tadpoles and frogs, put out by one of the major children’s publishers. The entire book consists of 20 factual, declarative sentences. But scattered among them are six sentences that are not like the others, for they are billed as “Fun Facts.”
Are we to assume that the facts not marked as “Fun Facts” aren’t fun? Should we skip those? Maybe just when we’re in a hurry? And am I supposed to read the words “Fun Fact” out loud when I get to one of those that are so labeled? Seems like that would be a disconcerting experience for a listener who finds all these facts about frogs to be interesting (I’d put F into this camp). Imagine if you were having a good ol’ time listening to “Fun Fun Fun” and then heard “She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now./Fun Lyric: You look like an ace now, you look like an ace.”
Now, to my 36-year-old brain, none of these singled-out facts seemed to contain any additional merriment. And while I did not have F hooked up to the sorts of electrodes I suppose we would need in order to get a precise measurement, he did not appear to register any extra mirth upon my reading of these “Fun Facts.” Not even the one about how some unhatched frog eggs get consumed by their aquatic neighbors.
It’s almost as if the “Fun Fact” labels were inserted, I don’t know, entirely at random by an individual or individuals who didn’t care whether those facts were, in fact, “fun,” and who may well not have found any of the facts in the book to be “fun,” or even interesting.
And that itself, to me, is interesting. But not much fun.