Saving the Publishing Industry One Book At a Time

You can call me overly critical, but the endings of these Little Golden Books are always just ridiculously unsatisfying. I just slogged through Baby Farm Animals, which was the standard fare we've all come to expect, sixteen illustrated cardboard pages showing various baby farm animals and describing what they do and think in two sentences or less. The art is more than adequate and the animal babies are undeniably cute, but where's the payoff? The last page of the book shows a small chicken. The text reads, "The baby chicken is called a chick. When she grows up her feathers will be the same color as her mommy's!" And then.....that's it. No wrap-up, no conclusion. The book ends and there's a list of other Little Golden Books you can buy, as cynical a capper as you could imagine. And what about The Fire Engine's Coming? Okay, great, the story begins and various types of people are watching the fire engine go by. Neighbors, schoolkids, the elderly. There might be a fire! Or a cat up in a tree! Or a busted water pipe! What's going on? The suspense is ready-made and no thinking reader can possibly put this story down. But again, the finale is non-existent. The last page features not the conclusion of the fire engine's journey, but the lame coda, "Wouldn't it be exciting to ride the fire engine?" Well, duh, of course it would be, but where is the damn thing going, people? Why do you think I spent my money on this book? Because I like the color red? And please, just get Let's Play Baseball off my shelf entirely. The author gives you the basics, but then instead of setting up some sort of conflict, i.e. perhaps a game seven of a World Series or at least some underdog overcoming some odds to get to a big game, the ending shows a kid grinning and picking up an oversized bat while big block letters tell us that "The best part is, baseball is a sport for both boys AND girls!" Really? Well, that's super, but that leaves the drama where exactly? What have you done for me here? Taught me that baseball exists? I could have figured that out reading George Will's trenchant Men at Work, thank you very much. That little blonde-haired boy in the blue cap---did he suddenly fall off the face of the earth between pages 4 and 12? Could he not have returned to at least give the tale some symmetry?

Oh, I'm sorry, you asked me about my cholesterol level. Yeah, it's been all right. I apologize. No, there's been no real change since my last appointment. Um, what's that needle there? Why is that moving toward my hip? What....whoa, did I miss something? I got off on a tangent, I know, but.....hey....let's discuss this.....Jesus....good God the pain,