Fuse 8 n’ Kate: The Stupids Step Out by Harry Allard, ill. James Marshall
It’s not every podcast episode where Kate is capable of turning me around, 360 degrees, on a title that I thought I had an opinion on. On paper a book by the guys that brought us Viola Swamp and that uses the term “Stupid” to great effect should be one of my favorite titles. What I didn’t understand was that in spite of appearing on ALA’s Banned List for a long time, it actually has a great number of problems. It’s possible it really hasn’t aged well… and not in the ways you might expect.
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Here are the articles I discovered in file cabinets at work that revealed that Mildred Batchelder (of the selfsame award) lived in Evanston, IL.
Can you be stupid and know that you’re wearing a statement piece? This is the kind of philosophical discussion Kate and I like to engage in. That tie with that shirt? Bold. But what was Marshall thinking about drawing a hydrangea wallpaper that’s so close to Mr. Stupid’s shirt?
My god. Why Marshall insisted of showing this dog over and over and over again wearing an “Indian headdress” the world may never know. Debbie Reese called this out back in 2014 as well as other Stupid books as using this tired and terrible trope. And yes, you could argue that wearing that headdress is ALWAYS a stupid move, but that’s doing some heavy lifting. The book is, as I found out, still in print in paperback. Something to think about when you’re looking at selecting which older titles to repurchase due to condition then.
Anyone else unnerved by the fact that these socks seem to have legs and feet inside?
Here’s where the book takes a dark turn. The Grandmother is in the closet “Where she always is”. Makes me yearn for the days of The Toast and Children’s Books Made Horrific. Ah, what Daniel Lavery could have done with this one . . .
Kate is fairly certain that the boy’s ear is instead, somehow, a strange growth coming out of this kid’s face.
Marshall apparently could only come up with one type of wallpaper. This threw us off a tad when we tried to figure out where the Stupids are eating at this point.
So apparently Marshall just didn’t care what the mom was wearing on her wrists from one picture to another. This is so bizarre. She seems to switch between brown bangles, white bangles, a small pearl bracelet, and nothing at all. Without rhyme. Without reason. I understand that it’s a silly book, but this kind of disconnect from continuity strikes me as peculiar. Like no one working on this book particularly cared.
An idea that has had its time. But, I can say this without hesitation: It had a great set of author photos. Marshall managed to work in a hot shirtless man in the back. Well played, sir.
Kate Recommends: Wednesday on Netflix
Betsy Recommends: The 31 Days, 31 Lists, of course!
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
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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