aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Can celebrities really write children's books (and do they? - which is another question)

The Guardian had an interesting article about celebs writing books for kids and teens.
Some selected bits: "Over the past two months, the top five slots in the New York Times bestseller list for children's picture books have featured no fewer than three works by people famous in other fields: Is There Really a Human Race? by the film star Jamie Lee Curtis; Noelle's Treasure Tale by the singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan; and the Big Book of Manners by the comedian and actor Whoopi Golderg."

"Anita Silvey, author of 100 Best Books for Children, puts it: 'Celebrity books are one of the great negative features of children's publishing in the 21st century. If I were still a publisher, as I used to be, none of these manuscripts would make it past my slush pile.' They are also in large part deeply forgettable. As you reach the end of one of the stories, the beginning has already gone out of mind, thus allowing you to return to the first page and start all over again. This adds a new concept to the lexicon of environmentalism: the endlessly recyclable children's story."

"Noelle's Treasure Tale by Gloria Estefan
They don't come worse than this. It's hard enough getting beyond the cover, which bills the story as "A new magically mysterious adventure". What kind of grammar is that? It's always a mistake to write in verse if you are incompetent as a writer. And this verse is truly, truly awful. It is a challenge to find the most clunky rhymes, but try this one: "Glaring under some brush like two marbles they shone/ eyes that stared at Noelle like a dog at a bone." That is Estefan's description of a cat."

"The English Roses: Too Good to Be True by Madonna
Bloated, vapid, frivolous, silly .. need I go on? OK, I will, with one last observation: the writing is painfully bad. "Dominic de la Guardia was quite a spiffy dancer, but all eyes were on Miss Fluffernutter. She was dancing like a whirling dervish." Spiffy? Spiffy?"
Funny reading, and also kind of sad. You wonder how many of these books were ghost-written. The reporter also highlights some good children's books by celebrities.

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