“Delightfully obscene,” says Newsweek. “Incredibly appealing,” says NPR. “A parenting zeitgeist,” says The Washington Post.
So I read it and decided I must be neither cool enough nor hip enough (or perish the thought, young enough) to understand how any of these accolades for Go the **to Sleep by Adam Mansbach are justified. Still, I have to admit that I can see its appeal to certain cool and hip self-indulgent parents, the kind who righteously wheel those hydraulic strollers bigger than a small car into a crowded elevator, smashing everyone else up against the walls. The kind who let their kids run wild in restaurants because they’re sure everyone is charmed by them. The kind who give a two-year-old a reasoned explanation about why she can’t crayon on the walls and then let her do it anyway. The kind who are afraid to tell their kids not to pull the leaves off the plants in the arboretum so they tell them the guards will come and get them if they do it. That kind. But I digress.
My new granddaughter was born last week, and her parents received a copy of the book as a baby gift from some cool, hip friends who are not themselves parents. It seems like a lot of money to spend for a book that will never be read as a bedtime story to a little one snuggled up next to you, although it turns out that you can get an audio copy read by Samuel Jackson. An audio version? Would parents listen to it in the car? This is the kind of book that parents will read once when they get it and then put it away someplace, hopefully not on the baby’s bookshelf.
Forget for a moment the book’s trope. The book is a one-trick pony and the verses are clunky. Some scan only forcibly. The graphics are just OK. It’s supposedly a take-off on Goodnight Moon, the sweet book that’s used to be a traditional first gift for new parents and is something they can actually read to their baby.
Still, Mansback has made a bundle on this one idea, and it’s a New York Times bestseller. I’m just hopeful that it is not the first of a series (Get the ** to School, Eat Your **ing Peas, Kick the **ing Ball). I will admit that like thousands of other writers, part of me says, “Why didn’t I think of that?” But I know the answer to that question. I would never have thought of it. As I said, I’m not cool enough.