Goodnight gun: children's book authors tackle firearms


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Drizzt
May 12, 2003, 05:04 PM
Playboy

June 1, 2003

SECTION: No. 6, Vol. 50; Pg. 49 ; ISSN: 0032-1478

IAC-ACC-NO: 101367346

LENGTH: 779 words

HEADLINE: Goodnight gun: children's book authors tackle firearms; The Playboy Forum.

BYLINE: Radosh, Daniel

BODY:
Goodnight kittens and goodnight mittens. Goodnight room and goodnight moon. Goodnight Beretta 92 FS double-action semiautomatic with 15-round capacity and delayed-blowback recoil.

Everyone knows children and guns don't mix. Bolstered by the modern parent's certainty that there's nothing children can learn from real life that can't be taught better by a didactic storybook, there's a new genre of kid lit to drive the message home.

While most of the books are by gun control advocates, the National Rifle Association gets into the act with the Second Amendment antics of its mascot, Eddie Eagle. In The Attic Secret, Eddie peeks into windows to see if anybody has left guns lying about. (Imagine how Charlton Heston would feel if the government tried a stunt like that.) Sure enough, a group of children are poking around Granny's attic when they find an old rifle. Before they can touch the improperly stored firearm, Eddie bursts in--and is promptly blown away by a responsible citizen protecting his home. Well, not really, but if that did happen, you can bet the NRA would defend the shooter.

Instead, Eddie delivers a stern lecture: "Don't touch it. Then don't stay around. Leave the area. Tell an adult what you've found." Party pooper. Granny returns the rifle to its proper place--alongside two gleaming guns in a living-room display cabinet. There's a padlock on the case; still, this is not the happy ending you'll find in any of the children's books not published by the NRA.

One of those books, Dana Doesn't Like Guns Anymore, tells the story of a boy and his bird friend Meadowlark. Dana loves his feathered companion but wishes he could sometimes play cops-and-robbers with his human friends. "Dana could not have a toy gun because his mom and dad said that guns only hurt people and animals." Eventually Dana rebels against his crypto-fascist parents by squeezing off a few rounds with his friend's BB gun, accidentally nailing Meadow-lark. This is a tale with two unintentional morals: (1) Parents should let kids play with toy guns or they'll end up using real ones; and (2) a boy will play with guns even if you give him a girl's name.

The Berenstain Bears and No Guns Allowed is part of a series of social-issues books that includes The Berenstain Bears and the Drug Free Zone. Written in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings, No Guns Allowed addresses not just guns but also "the culture of violence," because kids clearly need to learn about safety--and sociological jargon. Still, the book is astute enough to give fair hearings to differing views and to challenge simplistic solutions. When one teacher suggests removing "all violent literature from the library," another replies, "That would mean getting rid of such great authors as William Shakesbear and Robert Grizzly Stevenson." Of course, the most disturbing premise of this book--bears with guns--is never explored. Would it be all right if guns were available only to hunter bears for shooting humans?

Other kids' gun books have special moments, too. Guns: What You Should Know includes illustrations of the innards of a handgun and gleeful children racing a bullet. Guns Are Not for Fun offers a lesson in the danger of mixing firearms with bad poetry. "A bullet would burn a hurting hole right through your flesh/And turn your muscles and organs into a big mess!" Later: "Never ever again a soft puppy to feel/Just because you played with a gun that was real."

The strangest book of all is The Stray Bullet. While other authors have been informed by the latest pedagogical research--rendering their work tedious and predictable--the creator of The Stray Bullet claims she was inspired by her fright upon seeing two boys aiming what turned out to be water pistols at each other. The author's insight from this scene: Teach kids not about how they can get hurt by a bullet but about how sad the bullet feels when a pull of the trigger forces her to leave her home inside the gun. In this watercolor book, the bullet let loose into the air decides to save her own life, and that of whoever she is destined to hit, by simply refusing to land. Joyful again, she flies through a planet populated by hippies in T-shirts with slogans such as "The smart in you is the art in you." After a while these people seem so smug in their feel-good spirituality that you begin to wish the stray bullet would change her mind.

But no, she flies on, even fantasizing about the life she could have had (bullet wedding, baby bullets) had the gun not been fired. The Stray Bullet ends with empty pages where children can add their own illustrations. Inspired, I drew a Glock.

IAC-CREATE-DATE: May 9, 2003
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See, I DO just read it for the articles...... ;)

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Standing Wolf
May 12, 2003, 06:36 PM
Everyone knows children and guns don't mix

I stopped wasting my time at that point.

Marko Kloos
May 12, 2003, 06:50 PM
If "everybody knows" such-and-such, then it ain't so, by at least ten thousand to one. --Robert A. Heinlein

bobs1066
May 12, 2003, 09:07 PM
But what about:

Willie Wonka and the Candy AK

Bob the Builder builds an FAL (Inch Pattern, don't you know)

Harry Potter's Intermediate-Range Wand of Total Destruction

:D

Jim March
May 12, 2003, 09:19 PM
"Curious George and the crudely-converted-to-full-rock'n'roll AK"

Famous line:

"You ain't monkeyin' with ME, a-hole!"

:neener:

pax
May 12, 2003, 09:20 PM
But no, she flies on, even fantasizing about the life she could have had (bullet wedding, baby bullets) had the gun not been fired.
Awwww, the Mama Bullet and the Daddy Bullet got married and had a little BB.

pax

And the little girl had approached the bed no nearer than thirty feet when she pulled out a pistol and shot the wolf dead; for even in a cap and nightgown a wolf looks no more like your grandmother than Calvin Coolidge looks like the Metro-Goldwyn lion. Moral: Little girls are not so easy to fool nowadays as they used to be. -- James Thurber

Don Gwinn
May 12, 2003, 09:32 PM
If you stopped at the first sentence, you missed some great writing. That guy may not know guns, but he gets the absurdity of it all.


Now, in my high school's conference is a small town called Williamsville. Williamsville high school's athletic teams are the Bullets. They have two logos: a cartridge flying through the air with a fierce scowl on his face, and the end of a revolver cylinder seen end on (it's clearly loaded.)

And what do you suppose they call the Middle School teams? :D

Shootin' Buddy
May 12, 2003, 09:43 PM
Awwww, the Mama Bullet and the Daddy Bullet got married and had a little BB.

Visually, it's okay, but said aloud... :swoon:


I bow humbly to the master.

Stevie-Ray
May 12, 2003, 10:39 PM
The Cat in the Hat with a Mac
Charlotte's Web (Preventing hammer bite)
Horton Hears a Hoo-boy!
One fish, Two fish, Stainless fish, Blue fish

Elmer Snerd
May 13, 2003, 02:06 AM
Hickory dickory dock
the Mouse picked up his Glock
he forgot rule one
ND's are not fun
hickory dickory dock

Mute
May 13, 2003, 01:45 PM
More titles:

-If You Give a Mouse a .40.

-The Gat in the Hat

-Pat the Gunny

and the perennial favorite

-Green Eggs and Bam!

BrokenPaw
May 13, 2003, 02:15 PM
-Green Eggs and Bam! I would not, could not, cock and lock!
I would not, could not, with a Glock!

I would not, could not, with a Sig!
I would not, could not, they're too big!

I do not like green eggs and Bam!
I do not like them, Sam I Am!

-Bcarryaberetta96instead,they'resmallerP :D

Elmer Snerd
May 13, 2003, 04:12 PM
Little Miss Muffett
Sat on a tuffett
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
She blew that ol' spider away
(unknown)

Yesterday upon the stair
I saw a man who wasn't there
he was not there again today
I think he's from the C.I.A.
(MAD Magazine)


As I was going to St. Ives,
I met a man with seven knives,
three rifles, fourteen hand grenades,
two hatchets sharp as razor blades,
a bow and arrow, poison darts,
plus knowledge of the martial arts...

...all of which may help to explain why he wasn't beaten,
robbed and left to die like I was while going to St. Ives.
(MAD Magazine again)

HankB
May 13, 2003, 04:21 PM
How things have changed.

When I was a little kid, someone put out a series of children's books called "How & Why Wonder Books." They were like thick magazines, but with thicker covers and were printed on heavier stock. The first one I had was on "Dinosaurs" - always a kid's favorite - but I remember, vividly, they published one on GUNS.

Yes, that's right, a book on GUNS for little kids! It covered matchlocks, the pot-de-fer, Minie balls, etc., up to modern guns.

The book even mentioned Ad Topperwein's feat of shooting tens of thousands of small hand-thrown wooden blocks with only nine misses . . . using a .22 rifle. And they mentioned "Buffalo Bill" Cody (or Wild Bill Hickock?) shooting 11 times in just a few seconds with his lever action when charged by a bear.

Another book in the series covered rockets and guided missles, with illustrations and explanations of the Falcon, the Honest John and Little John rockets, etc.

I think these books provided an incentive for me to learn how to read sooner rather than later.

Elmer Snerd
May 13, 2003, 04:51 PM
I know how you feel. Were those books by C.B. Colby?
His books were thin hardcovers on science, space, the outdoors, and a variety of historical topics that would make Sen. FinkStein faint. Good luck finding them now.

http://www.stager.org/articles/readingmemories.html

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