Jan 24, 2023·edited Jan 24, 2023Liked by DW Shumway

Don't fret. TAT2 is imbued with cosmopolitan, female 'chic' taste and sensibility: a derivative work reflecting the pretentious, bourgeois class-aspirations of its author, and producers [ see Bourdieu's "Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste" ]. Your book is the opposite: an earnest, original work, manifestly borne out of a desire to crack up the child in you, as you said — no doubt rekindled by the experience of raising two (?) boys — as well as educate littles ones . Here is an analogy: TAT2 is like a trendy cupcake from Sprinkles, Beverly Hills, with "mystery" pastel-colored frosting. In other words: mushy, disgusting crap — for smug, bland people. Yours is like Mom's savory brownies: universally satisfying, by unapologetically delivering a wallop to one's taste buds. Proper content.

There is also undeniable gender bias, at play. I'll bet 30-to-1 that presented with the two books, side by side, boys would spontaneously gravitate toward yours, because it's got vivid colors and slapstick humor in it. Plus, the art is way better, and bolder. Unfortunately, as you said, the publishing industry is dominated by women, as is the librarian profession, and female values, along with tepid 'pastel' sensibilities, rule. Also, I suspect children books are primarily marketed at parents — appealing to *their* [class] aspirations for their children ( middle-class mothers being the likeliest buyers after all ) — rather than at children, specifically, which is why Doris said the book was rejected "because the target audience was a bit unclear". Maybe the 'mistake' is that you made a children's book aimed at children, first — boys especially, perhaps subconsciously. There was, however, obviously nothing 'wrong' with your brilliant concept, which is why it got stolen, twice.

P.S. Please don't fall into the trap of judging the worth of a thing by its market value / success, or lack of it. The world is alas full of 'successful' crap — thanks to marketing — and works of value can easily remain buried. Besides, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery ( though, in this case, 'plagiarism' would be more accurate ).

Expand full comment
Jan 24, 2023Liked by DW Shumway

My kids have read TLT and Smell my Socks enough to wear them out. And two years later, they still ask for them. I couldn’t be happier with your writing, Dan! Oh, and the TLT illustrations are the best...

Expand full comment