Have you been struck by how good children’s books are today compared to, well let me say it, journal articles on the same topics? Granted, awful children’s books are published, but nothing like the carve-outs we get from the expertocratic commentariat. That sigh from the editor of an economics journal of long ago is hammering on and on: “Close to a thousand manuscripts a year–and I swear that the profession would be better off if most of them hadn’t been written, and certainly if most of them hadn’t been published”.
–I liked reading Bill Peet’s 1970 The Wump World to my son (Dr. Seuss’s eco-scary The Lorax was published a year later), and I’m giving it to my grand-daughters. I know no better illustration of our cratered planet and where hope fits in. There is the touch of amateur in all this, but in that old sense true democracy started with amateurs ready to be apprentices. In a way journal articles can’t, children’s books let me say to myself, “I’m still here.”
–In the absence of footnoting kids’ lit in our articles, I’m tempted to read something like the following in between their lines:
Nearly two decades ago, our Wile E. Coyote economy ran off the cliff but has managed to run in place without looking down ever since. . .While in the netherworld below, two armies battle in the dark. One the legion of Dementors with their trillions in wealth destruction. The other Mad Hatters, who believe the worst possible thing you can do when things get dark is to save for when things go worse and the best possible thing to do is to spend wads of money you don’t have. . .
But, then again, children have a finer eye than the contempt of adults. . .
–Speaking of whom, if we are the ones demanding more and more from governments by way of better services and value, then the kids’ section of the public library is probably one place in your city doing that. Even with shock-jock budget cuts (and more cuts. . . ), this room is an incandescent, bespoke part of the public sphere.
No guarantees it will continue, of course. But we too are here and it’s a shame to pigeon-hole this as kids’ lit.
Osterweil, V. (2021). “Money for nothing: the more complex crypto seems, the higher the pyramid schemes can go.” Real Life (accessed online on December 3 2021 at https://reallifemag.com/money-for-nothing/)