Tuesday, June 17

Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their Lights

by Janice Milusich
illustrated by David Gordon
Dutton 2008

Future generations (or species, should we not survive) will marvel at a society that would complain about gas prices while at the same time feeding their children books like this that replace warm and fuzzy animals with warm and fuzzy service vehicles as a bedtime story.

I recognize that boys like cars and trucks and things that go. I also see frantic parents looking for a book that features various books on vehicles because otherwise they cannot get them to sit still for a book. I find this combination particularly odious.

Hiding behind "friendly" service vehicles (each with its own little face across the grill) doesn't disguise the message that these anthropomorphic cars don't also represent a good deal of what's wrong with our culture. As the humans drive around town in their double-wide taxi on clean, unclutterd streets (a nostalgia for an America that never existed) the occupants watch as fire engines and delivery vehicles go about their daily duties only to be put to bed with the sing-song title refrain. "Here we go, little car, it's time for bed!" it says.

Okay, little fossil fuel guzzling, planet destroying society, time for the big sleep.

Where's the book that features the electric trolley putting in a day's work powering down? Where are all the pedicabs parked for the night, the mag-lev trains running the commuter lines?

How do you break a cultural dependence on a petroleum-based economy when you raise children to see nothing else from their earliest bedtime books?

All politics is local. Start here. Find another bedtime book.


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