Geez, you take your eyes off the blogs for a few days, and a big dustup involving one of the nation’s largest newspapers slips right past you. A few thoughts, many of them undoubtedly already expressed elsewhere, as I play catch-up:
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Are they serious?
- Actually, I haven’t read the Jules Verne book, so I can’t comment on how inspiring it may be for today’s children. In general, I think it’s a good idea not to criticize a creative work that you haven’t seen/read/listened to yourself.
- But get used to it, people. Never before has it been so easy to acquire a superficial awareness of so many creative works, and never before has it been so easy to disseminate ill-informed opinions about those works. We’ll be seeing lots more of this.
- At the same time, it’s never been easier to set the record straight, circulate alternate viewpoints, etc., as Paul Acampora and other thoughtful bloggers have done. Good work, folks.
- Would any editorialist who has, in fact, read Edward Bloor’s magnificent and complex Tangerine parrot the Houston Schools Library Network’s simplistic summary of that book (“12-year-old Paul’s family revolves around his football-hero brother, failing to notice as Paul fights for his right to play soccer when disqualified for his bad eyes”)?
- Still, consider the source: As a news organization, the Wall Street Journal is excellent, but its editorial pages are much better known for turning out enough Whitewater editorials to fill more than 3,000 pages in a six-volume set than for providing valuable, thoughtful criticism of contemporary children’s literature. As we’ll be seeing more of these slapdash takedowns of children’s books (see above), those of us in the kidlitosphere would do well to pace ourselves, pick our battles, etc.
- Why was that WSJ intern trusted to write an editorial about a topic he was obviously unfamiliar with? I’m reminded of Michael Kinsley’s long-ago description of Al Gore as “an old person’s idea of a young person.” They must have just assumed, because of his age, that he knew what he was talking about.
- From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s quite possible to score a college internship with a major daily newspaper without being all that well developed as a thinker. We all make mistakes, and there’s hope for him yet.
- His editor(s)? Well, that’s another story. But perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the rigorous, serious-minded editing that goes into so many children’s books — even if they aren’t classics.