Message Driven Picture Books

Tara Lazar did a lovely job last year discussing the problems with message driven picture books.You know, those stories that drive a moral down your throat and tell you sharing is caring and blah blah blah. 

I don't mind subtle messages in stories, because, I mean, someone has to teach my children how to behave. (Why are you looking at me like that?) But no one likes a book that tastes like a spoonful of castor oil.  

There's only one thing I dislike more: Message driven picture books targeted to moms.

You know what I'm talking about...
The ones with the mom who doesn't care that grandma's urn just got knocked off the shelf with a whoopee cushion and her mom's ashes are all over the floor. "Oh I still love you!"
"Mommy doesn't care that you nearly suffocated your brother with a post-Taco Bell dutch oven. You're still perfect to me!"

It's just unrealistic. Most moms would be yelling, "Get to your room! And don't walk on Grandma on your way!"

I really don't need reminders of my areas of lacking as a mom. Especially right now when I'm hiding in the bathroom because the kids are home on their sixth snow day.  

It seemed like a good idea. 
(image by Russell Curtis via
Some people complain about the poor mother images in Disney princess movies. But I defend them.  These stories give my child an excellent standard with which to compare my mothering. "Hmm, mom hasn't locked me in the dungeon or made me mop the castle floor today. She really is a great mom!"

The flaw in my rant is this short story I'm working which has an iPhone obsessed father. Hypocritical? Or fair and honest reporting of bad fathering habits?

Argh, why did I move into this glasshouse the same month I won a lifetime supply of bricks? 


  1. I think a story about a kid knocking over his grandma's ashes with a whoopie cushion would make a wonderful, edgy picture book. Kind of a ramped up "No, David!" Get on that, won't you?

    1. Of course, I've been working on that! Here's a sample art note: child has face painted like KISS. licks ashes than waggles tongue at mother.
      Too much? (There are times I wonder if I'm in the wrong genre...)

  2. Hee hee!!! Your last line made me smile. Good luck with your story! :D

    1. Erik - you can totally reuse that. Actually that might be a good picture book called "Destined for Failure." The first spread is the guy making bricks in his greenhouse. The next is a monkey trying to fly a kite in the jungle. I can't think of anymore right now... but I might be on to something!!


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