Keep This Children's Book Away From Your Children  

What Women Really Think
Aug. 7 2014 12:08 PM

This Children's Book Will Turn Your Child Into a Sad, Meek, Boring Kid

Bitsy had her whole life in front of her.

Courtesy of llapinid

Remember poor Curious George? How every time that “good little monkey” tried to have a little fun, he would get severely punished? Like, he’d walk up to a friendly stranger in the jungle and wind up smuggled across the ocean in a bag, or he’d play around with the phone and end up in jail? This year brings the successor to Curious George, an energetic little monkey named Bitsy who is possibly the most pitiful children’s book character I’ve come across in a long time.

In the new book Bitsy Bear, Bitsy lives in the jungle with Mama and Papa Monkey and her siblings Itsy and Mitsy. Bitsy is an incredible little acrobat on the vines, folding herself into a little ball and flying through the air! But, two generations after George, this little monkey has had the mischievous curiosity so thoroughly beaten out of her that she doesn’t even try to do anything Mama and Papa don’t allow or have the will to stray for a moment out of their sight.


The trouble starts because of this terrible predicament, one that harried parents (who don’t suffer from metaphor blindness) will recognize: “The little monkeys had lots of extra energy. Some days it was hard to see where each monkey was at all times.” When Mama and Papa monkeys can’t see where their little monkeys are at ALL times, terrible, terrible things happen. A BIG BAD BEAR named Walter from the MEAN DIRTY city hatches a plan. Walter does a high-wire act at the circus and needs a small talented animal to ride the tricycle in his act. So he goes to the jungle one day and spots, “with his beady green eyes,” little Bitsy doing her flips. He lures little Bitsy in with a banana, and just so you don’t miss the real-world implications of this scenario, the picture shows Walter from the side view, holding up his erect banana for Bitsy to grab.

Author Anne Jenks says she wrote the book because, as a retail pharmacist, what she saw when children shopped with their families was “troublesome.” Mom would be absorbed in the new “tart deco” line from Essie while kid wandered alone into God only knows what aisle. “This possibly dangerous situation always bothered me,” she writes.

What possibly dangerous situation? I realize that I can say until I’m blue in the face that child abduction by strangers is an exceedingly rare occurrence, that a child is as likely to be killed in a plane crash as to be abducted by a stranger, and that many parents just won’t hear me. I get that fear and rational thought are not allies, and sometimes the panic just rises up in a parent’s throat—mine too. But for God’s sake don’t lay it on the kids. Because if you do, you will end up with a generation of Bitsys: sad, passive, meek creatures who manage to make a jungle really boring. At least the Curious George books sent kids a double message. Yes, George always got in trouble when he was left alone. But the authors, Margaret and H.A. Rey, made sure to devote many lavishly illustrated pages to how much fun that trouble begat. When George runs away to the circus, he learns dozens of new tricks on the high wire. But Bitsy, balanced on a tricycle on top of a ball, looks like she has the croup.

Jenks’ appendix is full of helpful safety tips for parents, such as: Keep DNA samples at home and teach kids about safety latches in trunks. She says to discuss “good strangers,” such as a police officer and other family members, and “bad strangers”— “people who try to lure children from public places.” In fact children are vastly more likely to be abducted or molested by family members and people they know than they are by strangers, but this kind of information is far too complex for Jenks to process. “This book is dedicated to the sweet innocence of every child,” she writes. If you are so unfortunate as to have a complicated child with other, less savory qualities—curiosity, willfulness, mischievousness, even, God forbid, a wicked temper—I’d say it’s not the book for you.

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.