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Dec 16, 2022

Holiday Books for The Kids In Your Life—Or Basement

There’s still time to spoil your little darlings

By Ed Goldman

If you’re blessed to have youngsters in your life—children, grandchildren, trophy spouses, whatever—and want to give them some food for thought for the holidays, books that may improve their intellect and passion for learning, may I suggest reading another column?

In the meantime, here are 15 last-minute, up-to-date kid-lit ideas:  

  1. HORTON HEARS A WHOM. A favorite of constantly dispirited English teachers, this grammatically (and subtly) corrects the beloved Dr. Seuss classic.  
  2. THE GOLDEN BOOK OF CRYPTO. It’s never too early to encourage young people to invest in something that may or may not exist, that comes with confusing explanations and makes dubious promises of riches to come. Think of it as an intro to whole-life insurance.
Edgy Cartoon

Yule Be Sorry

  1. BABY’S FIRST DISAPPOINTMENT. For toddlers, all of life is expectation. They expect that if they cry, they’ll be picked up, if they’re hungry they’ll be fed, if they’re diametrically opposed to potty training you’ll be fine with that. After all, you have a fulltime au pair. This brightly illustrated book urges you to teach them at a tender age, about gravity (suggesting you don’t catch them as they fall off self-propelled merry-go-rounds), the outcomes of neglect (urging you to not water any of your plants for a month) and self-consciousness (by taking the kids to a play group composed of complete strangers).  
  2. A CHILD’S GARDEN OF MEAT-BASED PLANTS. This reverse-woke intro to a kid’s nutritional questions will baffle him, her, it or they—and possibly you, his, her, its or their child-bearing or sperm-producing unit. We counsel waiting until the child is consuming food other than anything by Gerber (such as strained string-beans, aggravated applesauce or pulverized peas) since it’s nigh impossible for the naked eye to detect whether those started out as animals, vegetables or minerals.   
  3. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE OVER-THE-COUNTER TIC TACS. Your moppet may as well learn at an early age that certain antihistamine products are now by-prescription-only (on the advice of former drug addicts who said they’d painfully discovered where that Flonase trip could lead). This spin on another Dr. Seuss classic will teach them that while opioids lurk in even the most seemingly benign products, you may as well face life with minty-fresh breath, no matter the cost.
  4. THE CAT IN THE HAT DOESN’T PLAY ALTO SAX. Why not teach your tadpoles while they still listen to you that just because a guy wears a hat doesn’t necessarily make him a hipster? Unless he is, which is, like, very cool, man. Dig.
  1. MY LITTLE PONY-UP. Even pre-teens get into card games. They should know from the git-go about IOUs, chits, markers and collectors named Vinnie the Lip should they lose a game and not make good on their debts.
  2. WHERE’S WALMART? A welcome guide, map and GPS app, all packaged in a comfortingly bland plastic bag, will show your young bargain hunter where there’s a low-cost/low-quality warehouse of merch within Uber distance of their nursery school.
  3. CLIFFORD, THE BIG RED STATE. This may prove a bit intense for sensitive adolescents who think  all Americans are alike. One should probably think twice about ordering ISLAND OF THE BLUE VOTER, as well.
  4. RILKE-TIKKI-TAVI. Is it ever too early to expose young minds to the work of René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet and novelist? This book inspires young readers to demand their parents provide six given names for them; the last name on the list indicates the appellations can be non-binary. Or is that binary? Oh, who the hell cares?
  1. LADY AND THE DOG WITHOUT HOUSING. The touching Disney tale, retold with a special emphasis on animal shelters and why the greatest one in history was an ark owned and operated by a guy named Noah.
  2. ANNE OF CUT CABLES. Yes, that forest nymph unplugs from Comcast at long last, after only 49 interruptions of service in a six-month period. When those occur we see this on our screen: “Welcome. Bienvenido. Bienvenue.” It’s not a multi-lingual salutation. It means our Comcast TiVo has one again crashed and burned when a favorite movie or TV show is just getting started.
  3. THE THREE LITTLE VIGS. A vig (or “juice” or “cut”) is what your bookie charges for taking your probably illegal bet on the Superbowl, World Series or at what point the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will lose a 62-point lead—and subsequently, the game.
  4. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN HEIGHT-CHALLENGED DAY LABORERS. This will introduce the Little Billie or Millie in your brood to the harsh reality of why worker unions became so dominant in American life. Think of it: An unnamed mining company employs, among other diggers, one who’s mentally damaged (cruelly called Dopey), one who’s past retirement age (Doc) and one who suffers terrible allergies (Sneezy). The company forced them to all live in a tiny cabin, share the same bed and be bossed around by a young woman with no evident training in the field. She must have had influential parents.
  5. SLEEPING BOOTY. Oh, grow up. We’re referring to a dormant pirate treasure. What could you possibly have been thinking?
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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).