Thursday, September 20, 2012

Childproof: Cartoons about parents and children - Roz Chast

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading (at the behest of Jenners, who is always surrounded by an aura of humor, am I right?) "What I Hate from A to Z" by New York Times cartoonist Roz Chast.  I had SO MUCH FUN with this book.  There is something truly freeing about coming up with a hate list, and putting it out there so others can empathize (or think you could possibly be a whack job).  Roz's hate list was actually very similar to mine, but I came up with an expanded one.  It was better than an hour with a therapist.

So imagine my delight when I opened a package recently, and found THIS book in it, a gift from the lovely Jenners.  If there is one topic where you need to laugh to keep from crying, it is your children.  

Strangely, I could find no online visuals of this book, and I'm too apathetic to do my own scanning.  So let me just describe what is in store for you.

In a hilarious forward, Roz starts out reminiscing about when she and her husband decided to start a family.  It wasn't a well-thought-out plan...they were living a carefree life of projects, movies, eating out, and having fun.  A friend advised them darkly, "Don't do it".  They didn't listen.  Eleven years and two kids later, they remember back on that fateful day.  Do they regret their decision?  There are days!  To help offset the bad days with the good, Roz decided that some hilariously realistic cartoons would be in order.

She illustrates the Ten Most Wanted Babies.  My favorite is Jeanette, who licked the car tire.  Or Shelley, who refused to kiss Grandma.  There is the First Child Catalog, with an IQ-boosting mobile for $675 and luxury booties for $265.  There are the proud, attentive parents pushing a baby down the sidewalk in a stroller, while the child is musing to herself "When I am fourteen, I will make your life a LIVING HELL".  Hmmm.  I think that is a picture of the Nawrots 14 years ago.

Thought you knew the Seven Deadly Sins?  Roz has some of her own that include a cookie before dinner, shoes on the sofa, running with a lollipop in the mouth, losing an expensive toy, a letter home from a teacher, or back talk.  Looks like the Nawrots better pray extra hard at church this week.

Chast slowly ages the children and the problems that come with teenagers, and even college graduates and beyond.  We see Rosemary's baby at 27, still at home watching TV and drinking beer.  We see mothers who have been assigned punitive damages for Barbie sins:  Never buying daughter a Barbie = $3M.  Buying daughter Barbie, but the wrong one = $4M.  Buying the right Barbie, but denying daughter Midge, Ken or Skipper = $6M.  Buying too much Barbie stuff, causing psychic harm = $12M.  Chast's point?  We are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.  Get used to the being the sole reason for the world's problems!  

The humor in this book isn't saved for parents only.  I think anyone who has been a child in their distant and not-so-distant past is going to find a lot to chuckle over here.  If you are feeling a little sluggish with your reading, pick this up for an evening of fun.  

4 out of 5 stars 
  

12 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Oh man, that looks wonderful! I'd love to meet Jenners, wouldn't you? The two of you together would be hilarious!!

Marie said...

I love her New Yorker cartoons and I'm sure I'd love this book. She also did a great cover for Cold Comfort Farm.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds very fun. I love Roz Chast. And even when she isn't that funny to me, I still love her drawings!

Zibilee said...

I love Jeanette who licked the car tire and gave a hearty laugh to that one. You know I can relate, right? The kinds of stuff that my kids come up with, even this late in the game make me think that I need to read this book. It's not only you. Believe me, it's not.

Kelly TheWellReadRedhead said...

Oh man, this book was clearly MADE for me. Thanks for the review!!

Jackie Bailey said...

This sounds really entertaining! I am always amazed at what children get up to. I'm sure me and my friends could come up with enough of our own scenarios for a book!

Jenners said...

Glad you enjoyed it!! My only real beef is that it was too short!!!

I love being described as having "an aura of humor." Tell that to my husband. He doesn't see it! HA!

Julie P. said...

How did you know that I'm feeling sluggish with my reading? LOL! Sounds like fun!

Alyce said...

It sounds like something that any parent can relate to! And which of us ever knows quite what we're getting into? :)

Literary Feline said...

This book sounds hilarious! I think I need to get a copy for myself.

softdrink said...

Re: Jenners. You are right.

JoAnn said...

I love Roz Chast's drawings in the New Yorker! This sounds like one I'd enjoy.