It’s that time of week again. Here’s an email I received from a mother:
My boys loved your email! As we’ve come to expect from you, your writing had them laughing. We look forward to reading your next book.
As a parent, I’d also like to add that I appreciate the appropriateness of the behaviors and words Jigsaw and his friends use. I say this because I attempted to start a new series today called “_____ ______” and was quite appalled by what I was reading — I had to quit and return the books.
I sound so “mommyish” saying that, but I really want you to know that I appreciate your work even more than I did before!
Getting up on my high horse, but hopefully not too sanctimonious, I replied:
Thank you for noticing. I agree with you 100%, even to the point where I’m somewhat shocked by my conservative approach.
My children are not allowed to call anyone “stupid” or “dumb” or “fat.” To them, those are “bad words.” And in Jigsaw’s world, across almost 40 books and 250,000 words, they don’t exist. I don’t see the value of it. These books are for 1st, 2nd, 3rd-grade children. There is time enough for them to be exposed to those behaviors and that language. Hey, if they take the school bus, they are exposed to far worse. But that’s not what I want to do with my books. I’m proud of that — it’s very, very important to me — and I am not a wilting flower by any means.
As a parent, I’ve had the same experiences as you: sitting in a theater watching an animated kids movie, or reading a early chapter book, and I’ll be struck by some crude language. Why here, why now? I’ll think. To me it’s the worst kind of pandering and awfully cheap. I glanced at a book my seven-year-old daughter (below) was reading — and, it must be noted, enjoying.
Two kids in school are talking. One says, “Say what?” The other answers, “Your butt.” Okay, I get that, and I understand that young readers might find that funny. He said BUTT! Hey, put FART in the title and you are halfway to the bestseller list. Sigh. It’s okay. It’s a big world and there’s room for everybody. We all have to make our own choices.
Thanks for writing.