A while back I wrote about how I wanted to do a regular feature here at Sweet Juniper where I would "review" (i.e. make fun of) children's books written by celebrities. Our friendly neighborhood BARGAIN BOOK WAREHOUSE (slogan: "Where Bad Books Go to Die") has a gigantic section devoted solely to shitty children's books written by shitty celebrities. I thought it would be funny to write about Jada Pinckett Smith's Girls Hold up the World, but every time I sat down to "review" it I felt like I was making fun of the retarded kids at the school assembly.
Then I found a celebrity totally undeserving of pity: Billy Joel. By virtue of his continued existence, and a literal reading of his 1977 hit "Only the Good Die Young," hasn't Mr. Joel essentially admitted what we all know to be true: that he is not good; that he is bad. Billy Joel's third wife is 24 years old. He's 57. His own daughter via Christie Brinkley is 21. That's why I was sure when I sat down with a copy of his crap children's book Goodnight My Angel, I would be able to totally make fun of this soft-rock pansy asshole with impunity. The illustrations are so saccharine that Thomas Kinkade "The Painter of Light" himself wouldn't even have the plums to draw anything this cheesy, and the text of the "book" is nothing but the lyrics to the song that Billy Joel sang to his daughter when his current wife was still in diapers.
Who do these celebrities think they are, believing themselves authors of children's literature simply because they managed to felate the right music/TV/film executive at the right time in their lives? A celebrity becomes a parent and suddenly realizes, Goddamn, these kids' books have only got a few words in them. I may not have graduated high school but I too can be an author! In Madonna's infamous words, "I'm starting to read to my son. But I couldn't believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were. There's, like, no lessons. . .There's, like, no books about anything." Imagine if Margaret Wise Brown had said that about the pointy-bra-wearing industry.
But I am glad somebody finally bought Madonna a thesaurus.
I am also disturbed by this trend of hiring an artist to slap illustrations on the lyrics of a venerated musician's song and calling it a children's book. Beyond Billy Joel they've done it to songs by Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia and even Bob Dylan.
Perhaps I'm too harsh. The problem may not be the fact that publishers are doing this, but that they are just doing it with really lame, boring songs by decrepit celebrities. So I thought that instead of making fun of shitty celebrity books, it would better to imagine the possibility of children's books made from non-lame songs by less decrepit celebrities. So, in that spirit, I present to you, "A Horse Named Paul Revere," a children's book by The Beastie Boys:
I have also set up a flickr site with the full rap/text. This blog is clearly a cry for help.