I accept all these things, because that's how I roll, but I do find myself having my moments with Richard Scarry, particularly in his Best Word Book Ever. I can handle elephants in sailor suits and pigs driving fire engines. This I'm used to. But if you examine the detail-packed Where's Waldo-esque illustrations in this book, more troubling questions emerge:
- On the bears' farm, why is it that species which, in previous pages, wore clothes and seemed sentient are suddenly naked and contained in pigpens and such? Why do the farming bears all have a look of human-like consciousness on their faces, while the pigs, sheep, and cows all have disturbingly blank expressions that one can only describe as "a state of pre-food-ness"?
- At the supermarket, do the pig customers, who have mysteriously regained their sentience, realize that the store is hawking bacon over in the meats department? Shouldn't a boycott be in order? What's equally alarming is that someone has parked a shopping cart right in front of the meat case, and sitting in the kiddie seat is a piglet who is happily gazing at the bologna. The fact that this porcine infant also seems to have been abandoned by his parents is almost incidental to the scene.
- The zoo is possibly the most disorienting tableau. We see caged bears and elephants and beasts of prey, while the zoo's clientele seems to be exclusively rodent in nature. The zookeepers and other staff are all cats, who attend equally to the mice visitors and wild animals. I don't know why this scene troubles me, but it does. Deeply.
Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, 1963 vs 1991 editions (with revisions). The 1963 edition is my own, bought for me in the late '60s when I was a toddler, and read to tatters. The 1991 edition belongs to my kids today. I was so familar with the older one that I immediately started noticing a few differences, and so have catalogued 14 of the more interesting differences here in this collection.The changes are pretty much on par with what you'd expect. Mom and dad bunny are both in the kitchen now, not just mom. Chanukah has been added to the section on holidays. And the First Nations rabbit no longer paddles his canoe, having been replaced by a garden-variety Rabbit rabbit.
I was a little sad, though, to see that becoming a cowboy is no longer considered a viable career option:
Curse you, "progress."