Monday, 23 August 2010

Random thought: Why are books based on kid's TV shows so awful?

Despite our best efforts to be the best parents we can possibly be, my wife and I invariably find that there are moments (usually when we're on our own with Charlotte) that we need to plonk her down in front of the TV - usually to cook or get on with some vital piece of housework. Naturally doing so means that she picks up favourite TV programmes along the way. Two recent favourites (Chuggington and Zingzillas) are being merchandised to pieces with various toys, DVD packs and more relevant to this blog, accompanying books. 

I spotted a couple of Chuggington books while out shopping and thought I'd have a flick through. By accident or possibly by design (after all, you don't want kids reading a book about your show when they can be watching it, or buying the expensive DVD box sets) the books are invariably awful. Poorly written, often drably illustrated with photos grabbed straight from the show. Put together hastily in order to cash in as quickly as possible. 

I'm sure this wasn't always the way. I remember the annuals when I was a kid, and even though some of the old Fleetway annuals were terrible, they could keep me occupied for hours on Christmas day (you only ever seemed to get given them at Christmas, after all). Most recent TV-based books seem to be flimsy and throwaway. Though if you know of any exceptions I'd be interested to hear your thoughts (after all that's what the comments bit on this blog is for). 

The only possible exceptions are the In The Night Garden books. These do use stories and illustrations from the show and are instantly familiar because of it - but mostly they're well put together, interesting and engaging.