Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Name Is Grover

Thus far, I have reviewed only books I and my kids have enjoyed. But, let's be honest. When you buy as many books as we do--especially during the summer yard sale season--there are bound to be some duds. Sometimes, we'll stumble upon a book that none of us like. That is unfortunate. But, after a few days, the newness of the book wears off, I take it off the shelves and put it in the donate pile. No harm done. But, other times, we purchase a book that is horrendous to Kurt and me, but, for some inexplicable reason, becomes a favorite of one or both of our children. Those are the cases in which we must grit our teeth and endure it, mentally cursing ourselves for not reading it through before buying. But, the damage is done, and the book is now a part of our literary landscape for the foreseeable future.

My Name Is Grover is one such book. It's not that it is a book about a character from a popular television show (though I do have much to say about that, and will, in a future post). Honestly, Sesame Street books are often quite good, especially the older ones. It's also not necessarily that it was a cheap book originally. Many of those turn out fine. No, it's that Grover seemed to have no real point to his story, and can't seem to stay focused on one topic for longer than a page.

General synopsis:
Grover's name is Grover. Then, he proceeds to list stream-of-conscious facts about himself that do not connect or flow one to the next, until he reminds you again that his name is Grover (in case you forgot, which, honestly, how could you? Because, if you are unlucky enough to own this book, chances are your child is already obsessed with Grover.)

Along the way, we learn that Grover plays "pretend" with Elmo (Kurt still questions every time, and often aloud, why pretend is in quotation marks), likes to eat blueberry muffins and milk with The Count, helps his mother do the grocery shopping, has a name that begins with G, can put his jacket on over his head (which he calls a "magic trick"), is best friends with his Mommy, and inserts his name into a nursery rhyme that, to adult ears, could have some questionable connotations.

Who loves/hates it:
My kids love it. Jay went through a few-month period where he would bring me the damn book every day, often multiple times a day. He eventually, mercifully, grew out of the phase. We all kind of forgot about the book for a bit, which was my tragic mistake. Had I remembered it, it could have "disappeared" during its lean months. But, no. I forgot about it. Until Kay found it and decided it was the best book ever, and started asking me to read it almost as often as Jay had. And now, I am back to reading it almost every day, hoping for the time when it gets forgotten, and I can really make it disappear once and for all.

Why we love/hate it:
I have no idea why my kids love it. Truly, I do not. The illustrations are not overly wonderful. The story is non-existent. We have about a hundred better Sesame Street books on our shelves. I just do not get it.

I know why I hate it, though. It has no flow. It is random, disconnected, and the writing shows no love whatsoever. I searched for My Name Is Grover, and found that it is part of an eight-book My Name Is...series. Based on this one, there is absolutely no way I am picking up the other seven to see if the bad writing is consistent. I suspect these books were churned out without much thought or care, simply to fill space on the shelves in the Sesame Street section of the bookstores, to make quick cash based on character recognition alone. It's a shame, because Sesame Street books are usually much higher quality than this dreck.

The verdict:
If you spot this book, and your kid is a Grover freak, turn around as quickly as you can and run the other way. Don't let your kid spot that blue furry guy waving his hand on the cover, because you know as well as I do that it is all over after that. Then you, too, will be holding your head, and idly wondering why it looks like Grover is about to push his shopping cart right into a huge display of cereal boxes. (Is it because his mother is being sarcastic when she says Grover is her "best helper," or is it just lazy illustrating? I'm betting on the latter, but I guess we will never know.) 

Sesame Street has put out a lot of better books. Grover has been featured in much better books. Do not subject yourself to this one if you do not have to.

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