The Worst Mother or Father of 2015: Cast Your Votes Now
It’s a little unfair posting this request in early March, of all times of the year. After all, I’ve only read a smattering of the 2015 books for children, and I haven’t even seen the bulk of the fall list!
But what I have read has definitely stood out. Bad parents are a children’s book staple. Sometimes the author spares the kiddo and just kills them off, but once in a while an author will go that extra mile and make a truly terrible parent. It’s sort of an alternative way of separating your child hero from the eyes of a concerned caring adult.
So who’s the worst? I’m sort of amused by the plethora. Here are some of the standouts thus far:
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
So far “Mam” is my number one bad parenting pick. She’s so bad (“How bad is she?” asks the crowd) that she verges on parody. If it weren’t enough that her daughter is born with an easy to correct (even pre-WWII) “clubfoot” and she refuses to have it treated, she’s also verbally and physically abusive. If she had her way her daughter would remain a mindless prisoner in a tiny apartment for the rest of her life. Oh. And she doesn’t love her kids. Nuff said.
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
If Mam was an example of a mother who loves her daughter the least, the mother in Cuckoo Song may love her own the most . . . and at a terrible cost. The father too, for that matter. Theirs is a caustic, horrible love that is destroying their two remaining children after the eldest is killed in WWI. Heck, it’s pretty much continuing to haunt their missing eldest as well. Even in death you sometimes cannot escape your parents.
Masterminds by Gordon Korman
This is an interesting case. I can’t exactly explain why the parents in this book are bad without giving away the plot entirely. Let us simply say that some love their kids, some dislike them, and not a single one is to be trusted. Ever. Under any circumstances.
Any others come to mind? I know I’ve read about some other horrific ones. Lay ’em on me.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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