There Are Great Children’s Stories… and Then There’s This


“Dad, there was a book in our cereal” are seven words I haven’t heard in a very long time, at least in that order. But it happened today. They don’t put things in cereal like they did when I was a kid. If you couldn’t dump out your Count Chocula and find the plastic fangs that turn you into a Choc-u-holic vampire, you weren’t going through a normal childhood. Of course, many spankings ensued.

But that story is for another day. Today I’m talking about the book I received in our family’s Cheerios box. I didn’t even know people put prizes in cereal boxes anymore.

Apparently they still don’t.

It came in a slick, clear plastic bag so the unsuspecting cereal eater can view the cover of this literary trove in all its splendor.

toothiana That’s right, boys and Girls. Toothiana, Part 1: A Tooth Is Lost. Oh, but wait. “How dare a librarian make fun of a work of literature?” Well, in my defense, (1) it’s not literature.

Yeah. That’s about all I got.

Not convinced? Let me quote the opening paragraph:

William the Absolute Youngest galloped through the enchanted village of Santoff Clause on the back of a large Warrior Egg, a gift from E. Aster Bunnymund. “I can’t stop or I’ll be scrambled!” he shouted over his shoulder to his friend Fog. In this new game of Warrior Egg tag, to be scrambled meant you had been caught by the opposing egg team and therefore, had lost a point.

toothiana-supercloseStill not terrified? here’s a picture of E. Aster Bunnymund, from the cover. Apparently he’s a steampunk bunny Hell’s Angel.

His green glasses and BDSM gimp collar just shout “EAT MORE CHEERIOS!” and then they shout “OR YOUR DOOM BE SEALED THIS MORNING! (part of this complete breakfast…)”

OK, I admit a childhood fear of all things costumed and clownlike. Other than needles, it’s still the one fear that makes me shiver and change channels if it’s on TV. But still… what parent wouldn’t find this bunny zombie just the thing to revert their children back to bedwetting?

And what’s with the Tooth-based land? There’s something vaguely… dunno… dreamland creepy about teeth, and missing them, and having them pulled. Like they combined the worst of Kafka  and Dali, threw it in a blender with a Goosebumps novel and a handful of Cheerios-based unicorn vomit (now with *sparkles*!), and pasted it back together with the deftness that only General Mills can accomplish.

What's with the zombie child with the scimitar?
What’s with the zombie child?

There’s a remote chance that Charles Dickens got his big break when he  published his first cereal-based novella. Little Orphan Annie became popular when Ovaltine came along to sponsor her.

Can Cheerios pull off the same wonder with Toothiana? Yeah. I don’t think so. If anything, it’ll make people avoid the cereal, on the chance they’ll never evereverever have to see one of these books again.

I think Constant Reader (a pseudonym of Dorothy Parker) said it best, when she  explained Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh novel” with this four-word review.  I steal her words here, and agree wholeheartedly: “Tonstant Weader Frowed Up.”

Oh. Be sure & eat your Cheerios. It’s gonna tempt your tummy.

[Update: I was told that the author, William Joyce, is also the creator of the Disney show for tots, “Roly Poly Olie.” Does this exonerate him? Well, can I say congratulations on also being the first guy to make kids afraid of basic geometric figures? He may or may not be related to James Joyce. I’m betting not.]

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5 thoughts on “There Are Great Children’s Stories… and Then There’s This”

  1. Those are amazing books!! My cousins came over on Christmas Eve and they are 6yrs, 5yrs,and 3yrs old and adored this little book!! and Christmas morning when they got there own copy (when rise of the guardians came out) they were so happy!!! Don’t try to put down these books, when you seem to be the only one with the negativity.

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  2. There’s no need to get all worked up over a children’s book. And besides, at least it promotes reading. And the series of these books have inspired a movie (Rise of the Guardians) so it’s not that surprising that Cheerios has these books in the boxes…

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  3. It’s just a children’s book… There’s no need to get all worked up over it. If it’s good enough to inspire a movie, then I don’t see why it can’t be in a cereal box- which also promotes reading.

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  4. My son likes Cheerios but we can’t get them in Japan (except as in the form of presents from people who have access to shopping on the US of A’s military bases here), so we have had to make do with Weetabix Crunchy Bran. While he’s not evil in the sense of the other William Joyce (aka Lord Haw-Haw, a Nazi propagandis), a quick google over the works attributed to the William Joyce that produced the rubbish you quoted makes me glad we haven’t been subjected to his ad placement droppings floating around in our breakfast bowls.

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  5. OH Snap I bought that same cereal because of the freebie ! now I am very afraid ! it brought back some of the same found memories you mentioned (all the cool plastic thingy’s ) we used to get as a child mind you it was some time ago ! things do change and most of it , is for the worst 😦 I am now bummed and will have NO choice but to give that box to the recycle !

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