The Indestructible Book

     We got these indestructible books a while back and I always had two drastically different thoughts about these books. For starters, these truly are baby-proof. Bub runs these through the ringer and they come out intact each time. Feeling a little nippy and need to chew? No problem. Like chewing on a leather strap. Feeling a little bitter and have the urge to destroy? No problem. Again, like trying to tear strips of leather. Did bub crumple it up and stuff it in his diapy for a bed-time read? Easy, run it through the wash and you’re good to go. Basically, the indestructible nature holds up to the claim.

     Other things that I love about these are the colorful, dream-like imagery of each picture.  An almost paper-mache like approach was taken in putting the pictures together. What I like more than the imagery is the fact that the nursery rhyme stories are wordless, and can therefore change with each telling. Why did Humpty-Dumpty sit on the Great Wall in the first place? Old McDonald’s farm can have different animal noises each time. They’re instructional and educational – baby expressions and meanings, mommy and baby animals, creepy crawlers. As an added bonus, each book begins with a call to action: “Hey Baby!! Look at these baby animals!” right on the cover. No better way to get a non-reading infants attention! No, no; this is why I love about these books. It’s what I don’t like that you might find a bit odd. 

     Notice something different about these tried and true nursery rhymes? How many times has Humpty-Dumpty been Oriental ? What about Old McDonald hailing from south of the equator? Now, by no means am I criticizing these cultures. No. I fully understand the intent to educate about different cultures, and that’s fine.  Introducing diversity to our sheltered youth is great, but the way these books go about it is different. Lost in the attempt are stereotypes that drown out the educational value. 
     Humpty Dumpty is helping the Chinese keep out the violent nomadic tribes in ancient China. I’m not sure if the tongue in cheek is intentional or not, but it’s definitely present. I mean, look at the cover! First page into the book and the first thing I notice is the hair. I’m sorry, but no living human is capable of acute angles in their hair buns. Triangles, arrows and rectangles, oh my! Crazy anime-hilarity ensues and Humpty falls from his perch. Now here’s the kicker, in this version, Humpty was fooling everyone with his exoskeleton, concealing his true identity: a CHICKEN! After his great fall, there’s no need to put him back together again. With his veil of secrecy shed, he’s a fully mature chicken. They all have that anime-like laugh at the end of each episode.
Notice the crazy hair shapes and a wise Humpty.
Fu Manchu Crusaders. Put down glue and string. It’s futile!
Humpty’s a  Chicken!! And then we all laughed.
     Old McDonald has it slightly better. In this scenario, the farmer resides in Bolivia, out in the high desert far removed from any form of civilization, where sustaining a farm of animals with various needs seems pretty implausible. But again, we have an element of crazy anime trickling throughout. Check out the Pokemon chinchilla on the front cover. I can’t really nit-pick this one. It features psychedelic-colored happy animals, albeit a rather eclectic bunch herbivores and scavengers, living peacefully in the desert.

Crazy Pokemon Chinchilla.
Well, at least the animals are happy, right?- 
     The first time I went to read these to Bub, I was taken aback by their cultural diversity. I found it hard through the first read to say the rhyme in my native dialect. Try as I might, Humpty had a horrible Chinese accent and the Farmer kept insisting on a siesta instead of tending his herd. All the while Bub was just excited with the colors and imagery. In the end, these are great books. I love them. Bub loves them. I realize I’m probably far outside how most people will look at these. With the exception of Humpty’s rendition being a little over the top, I think the diversity angle is unique and welcomed.

Fun Quotient : 5 / 5 – New story every time. Bub loves the images and colors.
Durability : 5 / 5 – The names in the pudding.
Educational Value: 3 / 5 – While the cultural aspect is nice, there are no words and is only as educational as                      the reader makes it. Other titles did have basic words to match a picture for beginners.

Overall Score: 4.5 / 5


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