Oh Geronimo Stilton why did they make you so much less cool?

Geronimo Stilton and the Dragon Prophecy

I love Geronimo Stilton completely and utterly. They are such good books for kids who are starting to read and finding it a little challenging. And let’s face it, that’s pretty much all children.

Since most adults haven’t every actually read one I feel like I need to explain how they do this. Through the text. Instead of writing the whole book in something boring and monotone like Arial or Times New Roman they mix it up. More than that, they mix it up in a way that is often useful for the reader. Orange would never be written the way I just wrote it – it would be coloured, giving the reader a visual clue to figuring out what the word was. Right and Left are likely to have little arrows under them pointing in the right (or left) direction. Smelly will probably be written in a gross green/brown colour. Of course, some words are a little harder to get across just through font changes (burp, dragged and light) but they still try to make the words more interesting (red capital letters with a ! at the end, italics, and yellow letters).

I don’t know for sure, since I never read these as a kid but I was a slow reader, and it was really hard to take in every word while I was reading. You know what really helps with that? A change of scenery.

This one is also really long, which is wonderful. The sense of accomplishment and the feeling like they’re reading novels – super important and the Kingdom of Fantasy ones are particularly good for this ’cause they’re really fat. The pictures are beautiful, colourful and surprisingly gender neutral. I mean, there are dragons and poop which tends to get slotted in the “boy” column but there’s also unicorns and fairies, which dominate “girl” reading. So that was pretty refreshing. Also just pretty. There’s even an awesome activity where kids can translate parts of the page out of fairy language and into English. This book comes with it’s own language! How cool is that?

I know, I know, Tolkien’s stuff does too but this one is functional.

So with cool pictures and wonderful fun words we get to watch the adventures of Geronimo, the mouse who just wants to eat cheese, sleep and read quietly in bed (with cheese if possible) fumble his way through an epic quest to find the stolen dragon’s egg. It’s just delightful.

All right, now here it comes. After all this discussion about how wonderful these books are why do I feel like this one is less awesome than the other few I’d read?

Didactic-ism.

That’s totally a word.

I’m all for narrative pauses to provide informative breaks in my children’s lit, sort of anyway, but this just …. too much. Some of them weren’t so bad. The blurb about why onions make you cry was kind of neat (sulfuric gas! Yeah, I know everyone but me knew that). I enjoyed the discussion about the significance of the olive branch in Greek and Roman culture. But I started to get a little suspicious when I got to the one about how it’s bad to tell lies. And the one titled “Building Peace”. I mean, the science, history and language sort of made sense. If Firebreath is going to use onions so  he can fake cry maybe it’s important to offer the information in case someone asks. If there’s a kid who doesn’t understand jealousy I guess explaining it is worth while. But why can’t we just give stories to kids that demonstrate the importance of being honest and not starting wars? Why do we have to stop, look straight into the camera and spell it out for them like they’re dumb?

They’re not! The story does that all by itself. They’re perfectly capable of  looking at fiction and seeing how it could apply to their own lives. They don’t need us to tell us how to do it.

Also, I feel like the building peace blurb was pretty hypocritical. I mean when was the last time a member of our government sat down and “respected each other and tried to discuss problems fairly”? They’re all adults.

Clearly they need to read more Geronimo Stilton.

Last movie I watched: A little way into Jane Eyre. The Michael Fassbender Mia Waisunspellable one. It’s fantastic.

Last TV episode I watched: Leverage! A far superior episode to the last few.

Clearly, I’ve had a wildly exciting Sunday.

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