Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Top ten annoyances about children's books

Top Ten Annoyances about Children's Books

Hundreds of thousands of children's books are published every year, and from time to time you see the same old mistakes being made in the creation, publishing and presentation of children's books. So here's a top ten of things that really annoy me about certain children's books. 

1) Text at the bottom of a page can easily be obscured by small and inquisitive hands. Not really sure what the answer to this is, but if you're reading something wordy and your little darling is fidgeting or pawing the pages, it would be great if publishers kept text towards the top of a page so you can carry on reading while your little ones are being busy. 

Culprit(s): The Little Princess books. 

2) Pull out or lift up tabs that are too hard for little hands. Come on! Think about the construction of your books. Have you ever had a two year old sitting on your lap throwing a massive tantrum because they can't pull tabs on or operate the fancy bits on a pop up book? Not fun. Also not fun when they force tabs or foldouts and knacker them on the first reading. 

Culprit(s): Bob the Builder pull tab books. 
3) Horrible or busy text or speech balloon layouts. Particularly offensive when you're trying to teach your child to read and it's not obvious where the next paragraph or piece of text is that helps the story flow. 

Culprit(s): The Meg and Mog books

4) "Scrappy" illustrations. Sure you might list Jackson Pollock as your favourite artist, and believe that the more figurative and impressionistic your work is, the more child-like it will be - that means practically nothing to a youngster. If they can't figure out what your pictures are supposed to be, have a chat with your publisher and see if they'll employ an illustrator who knows their stuff. 
Culprit(s): Chicky Chicky Chook Chook

5) Re-using the same idea over, and over, and over again. Great for a couple of books but ultimately boring for both children and adults if they hunt the rest of your books down only to find that they're all the flipping same! 

Culprit(s): Sadly, Eric Carle tends to do this with a lot of his animal books. 

6) Dull as ditchwater TV tie ins. The kids love the show but the books suck. Come on, get the scriptwriters working on the show involved at least. If the book just uses a few pictures from the TV show but pads it around an utterly rubbish story, kids won't want to read it more than once. 

Culprit(s): The Chuggington TV Tie ins. 

7) Complicated character names in toddler books. Again, if a child can't instantly recognise and bond with your characters, you've lost them on the first page. 

Culprit(s): Neil Gamain and Dave McKean

8) Stingy with the stickers. C'mon, sticker books must cost pence to produce. A sticker book that has about ten stickers isn't worth the paper it's printed on. If you're a parent you want those things to keep your little ones entertained for ages. Be generous with the stickers, you know it makes sense. 

Culprit(s): Some of the Peppa Pig sticker books

9) Overdoing it with the gross. Poo is funny, farts are funny, bogies are funny. People eating bogies are funny. But please, spare us more and more kid's books filled with bodily functions. Kids seem to be able to figure out the gross stuff fine by themselves without your help, thanks. 

Culprit(s): Why does earwax taste so gross?

10) Prices. You have a hit TV show tie in, you've produced a 5 page book with 4 words per page. You're charging £7.99 for it. You're having a laugh. 

Culprit(s): Pretty much anything to do with shows produced by H!T.