The Universal Human Trait of Being Just a Bit Bad

23xxI think it is very cool that joking and laughing are human universals, according to anthropologist Donald Brown in his study of cultures from around the world and throughout time. How can we ever be overcome when we can laugh? How can we bomb each other when we know that we all tell jokes?

I find my own screw-ups incredibly funny and thus have a ready source of humor at all times. I just finished my second book for beginning readers that promotes critical thinking-kind of deep philosophy for five year-olds, called Oh No, Not the Toe!  

Most beginning readers are a drag: “See Flip run. Run, Flip, run.” Remember? The challenge is, using a short list of monosyllabic words, can I keep from boring them to tears? I think so, but I’m having trouble keeping my inner five year-old, who is a bit of a beast, out of the picture.

Take Oh No, Not the Toe, for example. On one level it is a funny story about cute little lemmings running from unreal dangers, or what sociologists call moral panics: Muslims are taking over America, brown people are taking over America, or that one from the 1980s-satanists are kidnapping children and using them for ritual sacrifice.

I don’t mention any of those things, of course-it’s a children’s book, for Pete’s sake. But who told the lemmings the Toe was after them in the first place? The Fox in the Box, of course. Foxes are usually a tad devious in folklore. Is it my fault the fox looks like Bill O’Reilly?

Yes, actually it is. 🙂

My idea for a beginning reader about King Dick the squirrel who collects taxes in nuts was vetoed on the grounds that it would encourage too much sniggering. Maybe that’s right. “Nuts! I want all your nuts,” said King Dick.

But I’m going to make it anyway, a picture book for adults.

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