Wednesday, December 3, 2014

No books "for boys"

One gets the impression that someone at the publishing company was rather eager to stop marketing their books to boys, considering that it took but a single letter to get them to comply:
A school girl in California has managed to convince a publisher that it isn’t only boys who are interested in insects.

Parker Dains, seven, from Milpitas in California, wrote to Abdo Publishing after she discovered that the Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs that she was reading was part of a series called the Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys. She told her local paper the Milpitas Post: “It made me very unhappy. I was like, ‘What the?’ I said, ‘Dad we have to do something quickly.’”

So she wrote to Abdo, telling the publisher that “I really enjoyed the section on Glow in the Dark bugs and the quizzes at the end”, but that “when I saw the back cover title, it said ‘Biggest Baddest Books for Boys’ and it made me very unhappy. It made me very sad because there’s no such thing as a boy book. You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.”

According to the local paper, the publisher responded and told her she had made “a very good point”. “After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too,” wrote Abdo, adding that it had “decided to take your advice”.

Dains has since received an early delivery of the series, which is now called simply Biggest, Baddest Books. “You can see that we dropped the ‘For Boys’ from the series name and we all agree here at Abdo that it was a very smart idea on your part. No other school, library or kid will be able to buy these books for another couple of months, so you are the first to read them,” it wrote.
Now here is the punchline. Some of Abdo Publishing's other products:

Abdo & Daughters — Middle Grade Nonfiction
Grades 5–9 • High-interest and highly-informative titles for research and independent reading 


Beautiful Me:
Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls 

Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends:
Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls 

Girl in the Mirror:
Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls

Girls Can Too
Girls to the Rescue

Girls' Golf
Girls' SportsZone

I'm sure we can all look forward to "Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends: Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls" being renamed "Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends: Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls and Boys".

33 comments:

Zorro said...

How does this "girl" know what entomologists are?

Her fembot mother wrote that letter.

Jewelled Cranberry said...

This very subject was on my mind this morning, as I was reading a book called "Mighty Dads" to the kids. Usually Daddy reads it to them, but as he was already at work and it's a favorite book, I read it to them.

It occurred to me that someone, somewhere, is likely upset at the existence of this book, and others, as it's very much a father-son read, and would attempt to either ban it or get an analog of the same but with more of a father-daughter or mother-daughter slant. Nevermind that there are ample selections from multiple publishers written just for girls or with a neutral gender focus.

Perhaps this is a spectacularly good book on insects, better than all the rest. I have numerous kid-focused science books around the house. I wonder how the book could be made more girl friendly, aside from taking it out of a series of books marketed to or labeled for "boys." Perhaps a pink cover? Cartoon depictions of bugs wearing ribbons and bows? Nah. This girl was taught to perceive a non-existent sexism and injustice. Magical thinking: the mere presence of the world "BOYS" in a text renders it somehow less informative, less entertaining, and less valid for girls, I suppose. So frail, so delicate are they that a mere collection of phonemic symbols renders them powerless in the presence of the arrangement spelling anything related to maleness.

Way to go about your girl power.

But I know, preacher, choir.

Miguel D'Anconia said...

This father is a such puss. He's gotta be a gamma. Big time. He should have told his daughter tough shit, welcome to life. What a weak kid too. If this is the future of the US, this country is screwed.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Behind every feminist bitch is a spineless beta male father.

jimmy-jimbo said...

I am sure "Biggest, Baddest Book" is still not tailored to girls so this is just a non-event. Girls will still ignore it just like boys will ignore a re-titled "Beautiful Me" or "Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends".

It is quite funny how women and girls just get hysterical when confronted with spiders. I am sure they won't learn more about them.

Krul said...

I'm sure we can all look forward to "Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends: Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls" being renamed "Cliques, Crushes, & True Friends: Essential Health: Strong Beautiful Girls and Boys".

Same old story. Girls/women demand entry into boys/men's spaces becaus they "feel excluded", but boys/men never demand entry into girls/women's spaces because girl stuff (at any age) is boring and superficial.

Sometimes I suspect that females are just as bored by girl stuff as men are, but then I see the genuine enthusiasm in the eyes of two girls looking at each others' fingernails (seriously, fingernails), and I can't deny that the sexes really are that different.

“It made me very unhappy. I was like, ‘What the?’ I said, ‘Dad we have to do something quickly.’”

I love it. If there's any slogan that perfectly encapsulates the feminist perspective on any issue, it's "This makes me unhappy. Dad we have to do something quickly."

Conscientia Republicae said...

Hear, Hear, LBF.

I traded my old Chevy in for a Tundra, and drove it home too late for my wife to see it. She was very surprised the next morning when she walked outside and saw the black Tundra instead of a red Chevrolet.

I was telling one of brothers about it at Thanksgiving and he told me he was glad I didn't talk to my wife before buying it, like I was asking tacit permission like a lot of men do. I didn't tell him this, but that's exactly why I didn't tell her, because if I had she would have thought of something to argue about. She doesn't understand the concepts of vehicle allowances, business costs, etc. Now that I have the truck, extended factory warranty firmly in place, she loves it and has nothing bad to say at all. I was prepared to tell her to shut her mouth when she found out, but no need to do so. All is well.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

Geez, just don't buy the books if it offends you so much.

Thanks for ruining reading for my son you lousy bitch.

Mister Jorge said...

Contact them via Facebook.
I have.
I asked them why they decided to change the 1 series title for Boys when they already have 3 series that specify girls?
Her response, "if a little boy were to write a letter to me asking me to change the girls, I might consider it".

Then I told her that their decision was not principled at all. That it was simply appeasement. Because, if it were principled, and if they strongly felt that all exclusion were bad.... then they wouldn't need the prodding from a little boy in letter to change those other titles.

Mister Jorge said...

Check out the quality of Parker Dains father in the comments section of this link:

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_27030009/milpitas-girls-letter-spurs-publisher-change-book-name

Michael Dains is her dad.

Mister Jorge said...

LOL!!! all of the "Guest" replies on that link were from Michael Dains.
it explicitly said "Michael Dains" yesterday. But now it only says "Guest".
Probably because he was insanely rude to the people who disagreed with him.

everybodyhatesscott said...

I was telling one of brothers about it at Thanksgiving and he told me he was glad I didn't talk to my wife before buying it, like I was asking tacit permission like a lot of men do. I didn't tell him this, but that's exactly why I didn't tell her, because if I had she would have thought of something to argue about. She doesn't understand the concepts of vehicle allowances, business costs, etc. Now that I have the truck, extended factory warranty firmly in place, she loves it and has nothing bad to say at all. I was prepared to tell her to shut her mouth when she found out, but no need to do so. All is well.

I keep trying to convince my dad to do this. He's been married to my mom 37 years and is a pretty good dad but he always asks permission. I told him "Dad, just go buy whatever the hell you want and deal with the fallout (My parents have zero financial problems). It will be easier than asking permission and you'll probably get less fallout."

He bought a new boat the other day and it was a tight fit to get in the garage and he asked my mom to come supervise. It was a tight fit but we knew we'd get it in. Instead of taking 45 minutes, it took an hour plus because every 5 seconds we got a "Will it fit?"

How do you teach your 60 year old dad game? I get away with everything with my mom because 1. I do whatever I want and 2. It probably helps I'm the only son.

Jill said...

I'm already experiencing the difficulty of finding books to please my son. Currently, he won't read anything that isn't about Legos or robots. That makes about three books at the local library that he wants to check out, and he has to compete with other boys over those (sometimes, he settles for bugs, reptiles, or pirates). This is quite at odds with my female children, who will always find stacks of books to please them. You really don't realize how idiotically in favor of girls children's books are until you have a boy who can find nothing to meet his exacting tastes. And, yeah, "exacting" is about the sum of it.

Mister Jorge said...

This is frustrating.
On this link: http://www.themarysue.com/publisher-book-series/
The author of the article says:
"It’s worth pointing out that women read fiction at a much higher rate than men do, and both publishers and educators often have a much harder time attracting young boys to reading, which can affect their academic success—so it might concern some people to see a book which was once being marketed towards boys change its colors so easily. "

Has Victoria McNally ever considered the possibility that publishers are not making books geared towards the interest of little boys?
Does this admission of hers lend credence to the fact that ABDO book for boys wasn't a bad thing but a good thing?
Clearly not.

ray said...

Note Dad's role in New America -- enabler and enforcer of his daughter's (and typically, wife's) desire to rule over men. OTHER men, that is. They already rule over him, so everybody else has to be reduced to the same level. Equality.


Daughter feels disempowered, offended, disIncluded or frightened. Big Dad rushes in to Save the Wimmins from the clutches of the Evil Patriarchy. He becomes her Hero, and the Hero of his gynarchy. Society is corrected of its misogyny and basic unfairness towards females, made into a More Perfect Union.

That's America.

Conscientia Republicae said...

Jill,

Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, Louis L'Amour, Doc Savage, James Fenimore Cooper, etc. Anything there that will work? Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, anything?

Matamoros said...

Anyone notice the man jaw on Parker?

Everyone should write boycott letters to the publisher.

tweell said...

The Dangerous Book for Boys, full of instructions for making things and inspiring stories about real heros.

Tim Pollard said...

@Jill & @Conscientia Republicae:

Also The Hobbit, and in more modern works: the Star Wars juveniles, Captain Scabbard, Artemis Fowl, and The Spooks Apprentice.

I suspect these recommendations won't be that helpful for you/Jill though since they're really for the 8-12 age range, but from your/Jill's post it sounds like the boy is in the 4-7 age range.

On the other hand I know I didn't really start reading regularly for fun until about 8-10 (with the Star Wars juveniles being my favourites), and I'm a fairly heavy reader Today.

Bill Solomon said...

The only question I have about this strategy is whether it not only creates more neocon pushback that works against us rather than for us, but hurts us in the long term as well. Something Ive noticed about equality in personal realtionships is that it always gives power to those most adept at putting continual pressure on something. And that always tends to be girls.----- In summary the best coopting is done by #girls and nothing is more easily co-opted than #equality.

SarahsDaughter said...

How do you teach your 60 year old dad game?

After 37 years, there may be many things he already knows that you are unaware he knows. Unless he is just surviving an unfortunate sexless marriage.

Of course there is always tweaking that can be done to eliminate nagging and browbeating - hope that's not going on with your father.

I have in-laws who have been married 53 years. It has been a joy to witness his game. His health can barely keep up with her desire for him. Lots of Sigma traits in him.

Jill said...

Thanks for the recommendations. My son is 7, can read fluently, but has zero interest in fiction at this point. He will only read from the nonfiction section, and tends to be disdainful of fiction--suspicious even. He may decide he likes fiction when he's older. But it's a new experience for me, as I have 3 daughters and the 1 son, who is my youngest child. I find the library trips with him to be a different experience altogether. I'm learning how to be mom to a boy.

Jill said...

Star Wars juveniles is a good idea, if he can get into the idea of fiction. He loves the movies (I just saw that recommendation in a comment).

everybodyhatesscott said...

After 37 years, there may be many things he already knows that you are unaware he knows. Unless he is just surviving an unfortunate sexless marriage.

He is ridiculously self confident and shameless (he's very successful so I wouldn't say irrationally) so he isn't hopeless but he could definitely use some work around the edges which he just hasn't figured out. He just buys into the old model. My mom was very pretty when they met, never got fat, and still looks good for her age so he isn't doing everything wrong but a couple % change could make both their lives so much better. Decent marriage problems I guess

Meredith Grace said...

Strong, Beautiful Girls is a series about preteen girls dealing with menstruation and other things that girls at that age often deal with… They have the exact same series of books for boys at that age.

Girls Can Too does not say that boys cannot.

Girls' Golf is about women's golf as a sport. It does not say that boys cannot play golf. And there are plenty of men's sports titles from the company.

Look at the titles. Look at the descriptions on their website. Don't simply make statements to defame.
You're looking for controversy and you're coming up empty handed.

Mister Jorge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mister Jorge said...

Meredith, that's a pathetic attempt at justifying.

Then ABDO should have simply said, following your lead, to Parker Dains something like, " It does not say that girls can't be interested in bugs." But no, they decided to fall in line.

"Girls Can Too does not say that boys cannot.".... you're only embarrassing the company with that rationale. Because the 'exact....same.....thing' could have been said to Parker Dains' family.


But anyone can do this. Go to ABDO Publishing and find the search by "Series" option.
Type in "Boys" and nothing comes up.
Type in "Girls" annd 3 pages of titles of series with "Girls" in it pops up.

Last week if one were to search "Boys" in series the "Biggest, Baddest" series would come up.

here anyone, try it yourself:

http://abdopublishing.com/shop/search_results

There series option is right to the left. Click on that and type "Boys" and search and then type "Girls" and search.

Vastly different results. As a matter of fact, there are no results any more for "Boys" searched under series.

Mister Jorge said...

Just a quick sidenote: I think it's great that girls have books directed solely for their interests.
That's a wonderful thing.

But, ABDO Publishing thinks there's something shameful and lacking inclusivity to have a series of theirs aimed at the interests of boys and letting little boys know "this is for you". That's a bad thing by their estimates.

CarpeOro said...

@Jill
I was somewhat the same at his age (I loved to read history and started reading my father's college text books around 3rd or 4th grade). My father was a bit concerned that I was too narrowly focused, so he got me to start reading The Three Detective books. I expanded from there to Andre Norton science fiction (the level of most of her books fell in that age range for me). I also found a wealth of biographic works about famous people. The biographies gave some background into the motivations of them and how they effected their time. Nelson, Farragut, Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Daniel Boone, Robert E. Lee... plenty to inspire.

CarpeOro said...

The Tree Detectives were Alfred Hitchcock's juvenile mystery series.

CarpeOro said...

Three... geesh.

Conscientia Republicae said...

By jove, I think that's the killer elm! Nay, my good man, that's a Birch!

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