So, I'm browsing my groups this morning, and someone (cough, BookwormR, cough) posts a reference to the Anna Karenina book referenced above. Being totally confused about the idea that someone would adapt Anna Karenina for toddlers, I sought additional information.
The books above are five examples of "board books" that have been created by a particular writer for small children.
And I just don't get it.
I've read all of the (original) books. None of them are even remotely kid friendly. We have Anna Karenina - a lighthearted romp through infidelity and suicide. We have Wuthering Heights - a primer on abusive relationships and psychopathic stalkers. Dracula - bloody and death-filled. And, as the piece de resistence - Romeo and Juliet. A tragic story of two teens who fall in love and die.
And then I look at the reviews, which doesn't help me understand any better than I did when I started thinking about this. Because there are two kinds of reviews. The first talks about how awesome it is to be able to introduce a small child to works of classic literature. And to this I say, shut up.
Because there is no chance that any of these books are actually about the stories contained in the books. This version of Romeo and Juliet cannot possibly end with the death of two teenagers. It just can't. And there is no way that Baby Lit Anna Karenina involves a depressed and reviled woman who has abandoned her family for her lover and then commits suicide. It is not possible.
So, the books ARE NOT adaptations of classic literature. (Edited: I just noticed that the books don't even bother to put the original author's full name on them. Now I am doubly - tripley- offended. Little Miss Bronte? Seriously? Fuck you Jennifer Adams. Fuck you very much.)
The other kind of review complains about the facts that I have just asserted above. That the books are a great idea, but they aren't actually adaptations of the classic stories. They are simple, well-illustrated counting/color/whatever books.
And to this I say: call the child abuse hotline. Because what kind of a parent thinks that telling a toddler the story of, oh, say, Romeo and Juliet is a good idea? Not a good parent. That's for damned sure. Unless, of course, the parent actually has no idea what the underlying story really is, in which case, why do they want to introduce their child to classic books that they themselves have demonstrably not read.
So, if the books aren't about the classic story, then what is the point? And if the books are about the classic novel, then that's just fucked up.
Or, could it be as simple as, these books are a transparent and pathetic attempt to appeal to narcissistic parents who want to be able to tell their friends that their toddler is "reading" Tolstoy? Can it be? Really?