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WHY? A Book Review by Jennith Porklaverch

In the spirit of Beverly Donofrio’s Riding in Cars With Boys, Nikolai Popov brings us a wordless classic wrought with frogs in shoes with guns. Okay, maybe that’s not exactly like Donofrio’s coming-of-age family drama, but at least Why has some serious frog and mouse carnage.

It ain't easy being green. So true.

It ain’t easy being green. So true.

My first job out of college was at a large publishing house where I worked on second grade reading books. In case you don’t remember that far back, second graders are about seven; maybe eight, depending on their birthday and geographic closeness to poorly grounded power lines. In any case, they fall perfectly within the age range intended for Nikolai Popov’s Russian picture book, Why. The obvious themes, highlighting the frivolity of war and the horror of senseless violence, could make anyone cringe like they just bit into one of those nasty hard things that are always in bratwurst. Because bratwurst is just gross. But this is the kind of cringing the world needs.

It's a feeling that stays with you.

It’s a feeling that stays with you.

The tale opens on a well-dressed frog, sitting peacefully on a rock, gently waving his flower about as he contemplates the finer things in life: flies, lily pads, the feeling of cashmere on leathery amphibian skin. All of a sudden, there is an explosion, Michael Bay style, and from the bowels of the furious Earth rises a Michael Kors umbrella-wielding sewer rat. Because why not?

There's not a cloud in the sky. So... about that umbrella...

There’s not a cloud in the sky. So… about that umbrella…

The frog smiles despite the fact that his one day off was just disrupted by some noisy hooligan; all he wanted was a minute of peace, damn it! The mouse takes one look at the happy frog and his fancy lily, his sun-warmed sitting rock, and his frothing cup of the latest Starbuck’s iced coffee creation, and is seized with an unrepentant envy. Suddenly his fancy umbrella doesn’t seem special enough. His overalls feel itchy and look tattered. Why should the frog have all the nice things, he thinks? So, naturally, the mouse flips his shit and lunges at the frog. Umbrellas, flowers, and Starbuck’s cups go flying. *Not pictured, Starbucks coffee. Is anyone else thirsty?

I paid $13 for that Frappe!

I paid $13 for that Frappe!

Fighting ensues. Gang members are rallied. Frog crips versus Mouse bloods, beefin’ over turf. Things are intense. Amphibian troops steam roll mouse enemies in their boot tanks, shooting anything in their path. Mice rally around their weird mouse contraption, setting off a giant land mine. Frogs burst forth in a cadaverous bundle from the sudden, unexpected explosions buried within the dirt. Mice bear arms in honor of fallen brothers while frogs torch the villages of the innocent.

Probably Disney won’t make a movie about it.

Now is a good time to point out that while I worked for the previously mentioned publishing house, I was inundated with demands from adult stakeholders, the financiers of young minds’ education. I couldn’t show a picture of a kid eating an ice cream cone, it had to be an apple, or a carrot. We had to go all the way to Beverly Hills to find an ice cream truck that sold cucumber cones.

Because nothing screams:

Because nothing screams: “realistic seven-year-old” like a broccolini and root vegetable cone.

If I had a story about cows, I couldn’t show udders because that was indecent. I once read a letter from an angry mommy about an excerpt from the book Captain Underpants. I think about these complaints and I know that a story book like Why will forever be taboo. It will never be on the bookshelves of most 5-8 year olds. For that I ask, not even facetiously, why?

Because teaching your kids that underpants are immoral couldn't possibly have negative consequences.

Because teaching your kids that underpants are immoral couldn’t possibly have negative consequences.

Why shouldn’t parents teach their kids from an early age about right and wrong? Is it so bad that kids look at this book and feel the uncomfortable emotions associated with being a shitty person? I know there isn’t a musical number and a matching happy meal toy associated with it, but I think it’s a pretty damn good lesson about respect, bullying, anger management issues, and not being a dick.

Top Three Current Social Issues That Could be Eradicated if we all Read Why When we Were Seven:

3. Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner: Let him have his flower and sit on his rock. Take your umbrella and go home and watch reruns of Friends. Why does it concern you?

2. Mike Huckabee stating that New Yorkers would ruin Florida; later photographed holding an umbrella and giving the stink eye.

1. Westboro Baptist Church: I’m pretty sure God didn’t tell you to ruin everyone’s flowers. If you don’t like flowers, go take some Zyrtec and sit this one out.

Why? Because people are nitwits. That’s why.

Note: Revised from original posting. To view the original posting, please set your flux capacitor to the year 2006.

Bats in the Attic

Bats in my attic, skeletons in my closet, and tacos in my purse; get your shit together, me!

What I’m trying to say is that I need to do some spring cleaning on the ol’ blog site. I’m talking a major overhaul. I’m talking cosmetic surgery that puts Renee Zellweger out of the running for most unrecognizable.

Renee Zelwegger looking like someone who is not renee zellegger

Why… is this your face?

This is a hot mess of horrible and I’m going to slowly, over the course of the next few weeks (months?), (years?), (fortnights?), try to bring this situation to a simmer instead of a rapid-boil of word vomit stew.

Here are some things you can look forward to as I update, revise, or delete old posts:

  • Correct-ish grammars
  • Spelling words right
  • Less stories about eating french fries while on a treadmill
  • Fewer stories about fast food establishments, just as an overall theme
  • More pictures because words is hard
  • More posts, though it will be hard to top my previous yearly posting of: 1
  • More pictures of Chunky Pug
  • More words made up by me. BLURD
  • More complaining about the weather, cost of yogurt, and the economy
  • More sweeping blanket statements about politics, religion, and peoples’ moms

So, for those of you who didn’t abandon me long ago: sit back, relax, and prepare for a whole new blogscape (I just made that up. It means blogging landscape. Which I also made up. Do you see how real this shit just got?).

I promise. This won’t hurt a bit.

I came in like a wrecking ball.

I came in like a wrecking ball.

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