Perusing the shelves of the local bookstore — I won’t tell you the name of it; I’m sure it wouldn’t mean much to you — I came across three volumes which I had not previously encountered. Their luminescent color palettes and post-modern, progressive-yet-antiquated cover styles drew me in at once. What could these mysterious lockboxes of knowledge possibly hold between their feather-light covers?
Well I’m sorry to say, my fellow lovers of contemporary literature, that the content of these visual marvels was nothing but a disappointment on the level of what happened the last time I went to a Starbucks and expected to receive something at least resembling coffee. Do let me try to articulate to you how appalling I found “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
When I first beheld this thin yet enticing book by Eric Carle, I was sure that I was about to read a concise yet enlightening account of how humans had become a blight on sweet Mother Nature. I thought I was in for a sad-yet-hopeful tale of the typical caterpillar in today’s metropolitan world – depressed, alone and starving because of deforestation and pollution, but still looking toward a better life than this.
This was not, in fact, the case. The caterpillar didn’t seem to have any idea that he was supposed to be looking for sustenance in the way of leaves and flowers, but instead chose far more decadent items: apples, lollipops and even a slice of cake. I was appalled by the greed of the caterpillar, for he did not stop at just one apple. No, that would have been too reasonable. He continued to eat a dozen pieces of fruit and several desserts until he grew obese from the sheer volume of food he consumed. Not until the end did he realize that all he needed was a simple leaf and he was able to leave his gluttonous lifestyle behind.
The theme of this book was far different from what its cover led me to believe. Although the commentary on the voracious habits of the wealthy was almost well thought out, the writing style was childish and borderline atrocious. The sentences could have benefited greatly from a little variety in style and structure; they were very simplistic and some even ended in exclamation points. Exclamation points! Can you imagine such a thing? It seems as though the writer was unaware that his audience was any older than a child of three. I give this book an unimaginably generous 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Since the color purple in literature frequently symbolizes wealth, power and royalty — and this book paired that opulent color with a crayon, a mere child’s toy — I picked up this book expecting an examination of the infantile fascination our society has with wealth and material goods. Instead, the story seems to feature a too-small human being (I mean really, his proportions are incredibly unrealistic; no wonder eating disorders are so prevalent in today’s world) wandering around with his purple crayon and inanely drawing lines. Not only is this entirely unbelievable — the book would have you believe that he is drawing these lines in the air — he does so with no aim or purpose. Harold is a sad, lonely soul with a story that the author completely fails to address, page after page.
Reading this book was worse for my intelligence than marathoning all 48 episodes of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" while constantly banging my head against a wall. Even after steeling myself and suffering all the way to the end of this monstrosity of a “story,” I’m not entirely sure what the point was. It left several plot points unaddressed: From where did Harold get this purple crayon? Why does he abandon everything he begins? What is the story of the man in the coat with the strangely mangled hands? I give this book a .423 out of 5 stars.
Green Eggs and Ham
There was something familiar about the writing style of this book, although I could not quite place it. It seemed almost to follow a rhythm, like poetry. The illustrations were impressive and drew me in almost immediately.
Having said that, I have never had the misfortune before this ill-fated foray into the bookstore to come across poetry as simplistic and painful to read as this one. Although the art almost made the pain of forcing my eyes to take in the letterforms displaying the sorry excuse for a plot worthwhile, I can still only give this story a 1.23454738640234 out of 5 stars.
I was hoping for a gruesome-but-all-too-real account of the travesty that is the meat and dairy industry, what I instead gleaned from this wasted block of paper and ink was a poor account of an imbecile stalking an asshole. The imbecile could not seem to comprehend simple sentences or the preferences of others and continued to follow this other fellow around with a plate of green eggs and ham, despite the obvious fact that his food was obviously far past the point where it could be safely consumed (it was green, for Socrates' sake!). Perhaps the imbecile was simply acting as such in an almost clever attempt to poison the asshole; if that were the case, however, the author did a horrendous job of conveying it.
Suffice it to say, dear reader, that I will not make this mistake again. This unfortunate experience has curbed my appetite for literary explanation for the time being and I will stick to what I know to be the truly fine things in life, instead of allowing my time to be wasted in this manner ever again. No; from now on I will stick to true literary masterpieces: only works from a master of the trade of writing. Never again will I read anything but the unparalleled works in Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" tetralogy.