This week in Canada is Canadian Children's Book Week. Excuse me. Make that TD (as in the bank Toronto-Dominion) Canadian Children's Book Week, which means that for the past seven years, every year first grader across the country is supposed to get a free Canadian children's book. This is supposed to big year, as it marks the 30th anniversary of CCBW as well as the 20th anniversary of this year's giveaway, Franklin in the Dark, about Franklin the Whiny Turtle. I've never liked Franklin, not in book form and not on television, and not even for free, so my first grader won't be helping the celebrations (and hence the link lack).
Last year's offering was the classic Canadian children's poetry book, Alligator Stew by Dennis Lee; but there have been some clinkers over the years (which you can tell by the number of copies that show up chez Goodwill and at garage sales), including The Girl Who Hated Books and Nicholas at the Library; you can just tell by the titles that someone is trying too darn hard to get kids to like books. Of course, it's the 20th anniversary this year of Kids Can Press's picture book edition of Robert Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee with illustrations by Ted Harrison, but I can see where some teachers and parents sadly would consider that inappropriate for first graders.
The problem with the substandard offerings, and substandard assumptions about what children would enjoy reading, is that they don't do anything to encourage children to enjoy either reading or books. But it makes the adults feel better, and what's not to like about a bunch of bankers patting themselves on the back?
Speaking of CanKidLit and twaddle, here's something from the life is too short/too many good books, too little time department: Degrassi "Extra Credit" graphic novels, based on the Degrassi High television show. Not on my shopping list any time soon.