I’m up on my soapbox this week, giving some recommendations for books that would make great holiday gifts and encouraging listeners to consider whether or not the “content” based on the works of great authors is really worth your time and money. There will always be some tension between the competing demands of writers to create good art and make a product that actually sells, but generally once an author is dead and gone and corporate interests take over, the end product is rarely respectful of a writer’s legacy or even very much fun to watch at all.
However, no matter how much content is pumped out in order to extract the value of a franchise based on an author’s work, the original works still stand and your enjoyment of them can remain untouched. You’ll have to decide for yourself and your kids whether or not you’ll pay for products that the authors themselves never would have approved, and in general I won’t tell you how to make that decision. There is one franchise I feel pretty comfortable calling out, though, and that’s the “Grinchmas” line that has been pushed harder every year by the corporate interests that control Dr. Seuss’ work since his wife and collaborator Audrey died.
There’s nothing more ironic than the full on commercialization of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This is a book that is explicitly about how stuff is not what should matter most at the Christmas season, but Grinchmas is doubling down on materialism, promoting fast fashion, sweatshop labor, and obsession with material goods. Materialism and cruelty to others was something Dr. Seuss explicitly stood against, and I feel that the Grinchmas line is enough of a violation of his legacy that I don’t think it’s a good idea to support it.
As mentioned in the show, here is my list of suggested books based on the Leicestershire children’s writers that I’ve been featuring through the year:
- Christmas Street by Jonathan Emmett
- Diary of a Killer Cat and its sequels by Anne Fine
- The Ruffle the Rail Dog series by Rachel Greaves
- Mohinder’s War by Bali Rai
- Any of Rob Childs’ soccer-themed books
- My Diary by Emily Owen
- The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry
- Cindy Feller: An Old West Fairy Tale by Chloë Townsend (and T.Q. Townsend)
- The Neil Peel series by Ben Dixon
- Leicestershire Folk Tales for Children and Forest Folk Tales for Children by Tom Phillips
I’ve also done up this episode as a YouTube video: