Boycott Celebrity Children’s Books!

Et tu, Martin?

The Crow, Steve Martin’s 2009 banjo album, includes a track titled “Late for School” – a song I didn’t very much care for. The song, though energetic, was sloppy, with an inconsistent meter and some pretty labored rhymes.

Oh, and there was a second reason why I didn’t like “Late for School:”

“If Martin doesn’t turn that song into a bad children’s book,” I told my wife, “I’ll eat my hat.”

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is my diet is 100% polyester-free. The bad news is…well, you know.

Sigh.

I haven’t been this disappointed in Steve Martin since he starred in Bringing Down the House.

Martin, of course, isn’t alone. He is far from alone. The picture book market is lousy with celebrity titles. Tiki Barber, Joy Behar, Katie Couric, Billy Crystal, Bob Dylan, George Foreman, Jeff Foxworthy, Whoopi Goldberg, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Brooke Shields, and John Travolta are now “Men and Women of Letters.”

And the list goes on and on.

And on.

And on.

Yogi Berra’s on the list. Yep, the genial Yankees catcher, whose claim to fame is being kinda incoherent, wants to educate your children.

And, of course, there’s Madonna. When she was on TV plugging her first children’s book, she told the interviewer she wrote it because “I couldn’t believe how vapid and vacant and empty all the stories were.”

That interview was maybe 10 years ago, and I still remember that line. Oh, and I shall take that line to my grave.

This disturbing trend affects us all. When a celebrity children’s book is published, it doesn’t only make an angel cry, it robs the world of a spot on a publisher’s release list. That spot could’ve been given to a hard-working unknown who has dedicated his or her life to the craft of writing. But noooo…Neil Sedaka had to cut the line.

I mean, come ON!

Well, it is time someone said  “enough!”

I am that someone!

And I am looking for other someones to say “enough” also!

Consider this blog post a call to arms!

Join The Boycott Celebrity Children’s Book Association (BCCBA)!

You don’t have to be a writer to be a member, just a concerned someone who wishes to promote and encourage good writing by writers.

Joining couldn’t be simpler! To be a full-fledged, card-carrying member of BCCBA (cards not included) you only need to follow three rules:

  1. Boycott children’s books written by film, TV, pop, or reality show stars; politicians; newscasters; or sports figures.
  2. Respectfully discourage non-members from buying children’s books written by film, TV, pop, or reality show stars; politicians; newscasters; or sports figures.
  3. Come up with ways to respectfully encourage celebrities to submit their children’s book manuscripts under pseudonyms – so the stories may be judged on their literary merits alone.

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking, “But Jamie Lee Curtis is different! She can really write!” And you’re right, she can.

But for boycotts to succeed, sometimes the innocent must temporarily suffer. Fear not, friends; Curtis will be fine. Her books will almost certainly be accepted on the basis of the meritocracy model I propose. In the meantime, she can generate extra cash by making some more of those commercials for the yogurt that helps you poop.

Jamie Lee Curtis: great actress, fine writer, has regular bowel movements.

So who’s with me?

Write a comment and show your support for the cause! All suggestions are welcome!

Join the Association and spread the word! 

Only together can we make a difference!

68 thoughts on “Boycott Celebrity Children’s Books!

  1. I’m with you, finally someone has the courage to do this. My God you are brave! Madonna said there were no good books out there? Now I will take this to my grave as well, Roald Dahl must be rolling over in his. Laughing. Mike you need to start writing a whole bunch of books fast. Imagine if Adam Sandler decides to come out with a children’s series.

  2. My name is Todd Foley, and I approve this boycott. I also approve this blog in general because you, sir, always give me a great chuckle. I love your posts. Also, I am thrilled to know that Jamie Lee Curtis has regular bowel movements. I had been praying for her!

    • Welcome, Todd! I’m delighted to hear that you’re on board!

      The BCCBA needs editors like you. Your membership lends this fledgling organization some much-needed gravitas.

      And gravitas is important because, you see, I have this habit of making poop jokes.

  3. Fine. I will stop my plan to ghost write a picture book for Snooki called “Guido Goes Global” about a young Italian lad who visits Italy and the Jersey Shore. It’s fine. I didn’t need those millions anyhow.

  4. I’m a bit torn here, because if I was a celebrity and I was offered an easy route in to publishing like that, I’d probably take it, ya know? But then I guess I’m not, so ok, I’ll join! I’m not sure about the name though, I think it needs to be a bit catchier than BCCBA, it should spell out a word like CRAP. If I think of something, I’ll get back to you…

    • I was hoping for your support, Vanessa.

      And I am very open to a new acronym — but not CRAP, because I would be asking people to “Support CRAP.”

      And, well, that sends a mixed message. The Association acronym should be pretty much the opposite of that.

      But do keep thinking! I will, too!

  5. I completely agree with you, Mike. With few exceptions like Jamie Lee Curtis, most of these people are not good writers. And they’ve already had their fame and fortune doing other things, why are they horning in on a market that rightfully belongs to authors who genuinely care about the genre? They get an unfair advantage because of their celebrity—they get publishers right off the bat, and people will buy their books, no matter how bad they are. No fair!

  6. I wanted to say a big fat “Thank You” because I feel the same way. But I realized I planned to buy a couple of celebrity kid books for my nephews and had already bought one, written by Spike Lee (who ironically I don’t like).

    I have a bit of an excuse as there aren’t many children’s books that educate children — black white, brown, yellow, red and/or Samoan — about black and African things. I think these books are good for all children. The books I bought my nephews are about black professionals, neurosurgeons, astrophysicists, writers, scientists, etc. I don’t like that athletes and entertainers represent success in the black community, and I do know a few of those other professionals, the doctors, scientists, etc.

    If a black celebrity writes a book about tiddly winks or some rehashed thing — I won’t buy it. Generally I shut down when I hear a celebrity’s written a kid book — I feel they’re just being greedy and I don’t care what color they are.

    That book you wrote for your son kicks the asses of all those other stoopid greedy celebrity books!

    • Nooooo, Ms. B! There are a number of excellent multicultural publishing houses out there. They’re small publishers, yes, but dedicated and in need of consumers’ support.

      Do consider returning that Spike Lee book. Try an online search. You’ll see. You’ll soon find great books written by great (if unknown) writers.

  7. Okay! Yes, I’m on board. I like Vanessa’s suggestion. May I further suggest that if CRAP is the acronym, how about Celebrity Resistance and Avoidance Project? There are no celebrity children’s books on my bookshelf, Mike. My conscience is clear.

    • As I mentioned to Vanessa, CRAP is probably not the best acronym to use.

      Support CRAP!

      See what I mean? We don’t wanna support crap. I put this little club together because there is too much crap.

      I would, however, love, love, love to hear other acronym ideas. Do keep thinking. I will, too.

  8. Yes, I would love to be a member of your Association. I have followed the publicity of celebrities’ children’s books with disgust verging on hatred.
    Thus, when I had my chance to be a celebrity, I turned it down. I was an amazing actress (nineteen sevety-something, Miss Junior Miss contestant, I reinacted Scarlett O’Hara’s “I’ll never go hungry again” speech to RAVE reviews). But I knew I wanted to be a writer. Thus, celebrity stardom would not do.
    Thank goodness, because our boycott could have ruined me.
    Celebrities – go back to your celebrity-hood and stop writing putrid children’s stories and pontificating political tripe!!

  9. I’m in. I can’t believe Madonna said that piece of tripe about why she’s writing a children’s book. ugh. And as much as I like Jaime Curtis, I have never bought any of her children’s books.

    I can’t believe Neil Sedaka wrote a children’s book that wasn’t called “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.” 🙂

  10. I’ve always had a tendency to roll my eyes every time I hear of a celebrity writing a children’s book. I’ll bet most of them are ghost-written and the REAL writer doesn’t even get the publicity they deserve! I have not, and will not, support celebrity writers who horn in on the children’s market. They already have a career. Most writers struggle to make a living at writing. Give us a chance! In other words, I support you, Mike! 🙂

  11. Professionally, I cannot condone banning any book—even Snooki’s (so if anyone tells you librarians have it made, tell ’em the high salaries and universal respect is balanced out by the moral quandries and migraines) . . . but as a reader, a writer, and the mother of two small children, I will gladly follow the precepts of BCCBA on my personal time AND, make every legal effort to make my patrons aware of the alternatives to “stories” that are “written” by celebrities..

    • I am delighted to hear that you’re a BCCBA Sympathizer!

      But just to be clear, this is a boycott, not a ban. I hate the act of banning books. Banning infringes on other people rights.

      A boycott, on the other hand, is a voluntary action designed to make your opinions known to others; those other people then can do what they think is right. My feeling is, “You wanna buy a crummy celebrity book? Go ahead. But you might not want to join my club.”

    • I’m not gonna stop you from making a ton of dough, silly! And since you would get illustrator copies, you wouldn’t even have to buy the celebrity children’s book you illustrated. That means you would’ve followed BCCBA rule #1!

      To be a full-fledged BCCBA member, all you’d then have to do is gently persuade readers to buy another children’s book written by a non-celebrity. A book you had illustrated, of course. One that was loved by critics and embraced by readers…

      Hmm. Any ideas?

  12. My mom worked in a local children’s book store when Madonna’s book came out. All of the staff were saddened by its very existence, banality, and shallowness. That quote from her is priceless.

  13. So what happens if you suddenly become a celebrity, like your boycott goes viral and you become famous? Will we have to boycott your books because suddenly you’ll be caught in an ironic conflict of interest?

    • Good question! But, no, there would be no conflict of interest. As a writer, any fame I would (hopefully) receive would be the result of my writing efforts. (Now, if you ever saw me on Dancing with the Stars, that would be a different story entirely. You would have no choice but to vote against me – and, for my sake, I hope you will.)

      The BCCBA believes wholeheartedly that it is OK for writers to be famous. The BCCBA also believes wholeheartedly that it is OK for people to be famous in other fields. The BCCBA believes that fame is cool.

      However, when those who have achieved fame in other fields (movie stars, pop starts, sports figures, etc.) use their fame to get their awful, half-hearted, ego-driven children’s books on stores’ shelves, the BCCBA says “Not cool.”

      I say leave the writing to those who demonstrate a sincere dedication to the craft of writing.

      May I count on your support, Cricket?

  14. Pingback: Bye Bye BCCBA! Acronym Contest Winners Revealed! | heylookawriterfellow

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  16. Madame Weebles brought me here. Great idea here. It’s like those reality TV stars trying to release a music album of their deafening shrieks. They get the chance simply because they are famous for being the only female to ever be punched out by some meat head on the jersey shore. Okay, it’s not exactly the same, but what I am trying to say is that I agree with the unfairness of celebrity authors.

    Also, I get made fun of for eating Activia at work. I eat it for the flavor not the digestive stimulation. For some reason they don’t believe me when I tell them I don’t poop.

  17. Hi I came here via Madame Weebles post. I’m in. I’ve always been in.
    I’m really irritated at the amount of rubbish that celebs are able to publish because of their famous names. I believe reading is really important for our children, but if I don’t waste my time reading badly written pulp or Harlequin romances, why should our kids?

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