A few weeks ago, I uploaded this picture to my Facebook account.
My son had brought home his Scholastic Book Club order form–you know, the one marketed to First Graders–and this image caught my eye because:
1. It was the biggest picture on the page
2. It was a pretty color
3. Ms. Clam lost her pearl–I can’t even type that without snickering like Beavis
Clams do not produce pearls. Oysters produce pearls. However, if you are a friend of Beavis and have access to the Urban Dictionary, you likely know that some specific varieties of clam do indeed house pearls. I am a friend to Beavis, and I do have access to the Urban Dictionary, so I clearly had to buy this book.
In the between time of turning in my order form and getting my grubby little paws on the glossy, slick paperback, I had almost convinced myself that I was just being a dirty-minded gutter rat. It was just a sweet picture book aimed at early readers, and maybe the author just thought “clam” would be easier to read than “oyster.” After all, reviewers at Amazon had said this:
• The illustrations are colorful, whimsical and drawn with so much humorous detail that kids will enjoy repeatedly exploring them.
• This stands out as a lighthearted approach to a very real fear that most children have – fear of the dark.
• I am very excited over the prospect of reading it to my regular story time crowds.
• “The Pout-Pout in the Big-Big Dark” is funny and sweet and a great Read-Aloud and I don’t know why it hasn’t received more press and more reviews here at Amazon and elsewhere.
• The story itself is nice. It’s about friendship, encouragement, and conquering your fears with the help of a friend.
Surely, I was just reading into the text, and surely it was just my dirty mind sullying something so innocent.
When Thor brought the book home, I couldn’t wait to read it. And, halfway through the book I was laughing so hard I couldn’t make out the text for the tears in my eyes. It was like the Little Mermaid meets Sex and the City, with men who couldn’t find “pearls” and the women who had to instruct them along the “bottom”, over “slopes” and into “trenches”, guiding them through their fears of the “big big dark” until the “pearl” was found, and everyone could exclaim their happiness and share kisses, and Mr. Fish could take Ms. Clam’s pearl in his mouth and swim it back up into place—I’m not making this up! I could hear Samantha Jones reading this book to children as an instructional tome. This has to be in the next SATC movie, where Samantha is babysitting for Charlotte’s children and takes it upon herself to teach them about their feminine playgrounds. Actually, I think I’ve read less graphic work from Anais Nin.
The Amazon site describes the book with these words: “Very young children will swim along with Mr. Fish as he journeys deep into the ocean to new and mysterious places. They will discover, as Mr. Fish does, the power of friendship to light the way through the big-big dark.”
I studied Chaucer and Spenser. I know all about metaphor. My hat is off to the author, Deborah Diesen. The only thing lacking in this rollicking, rhyming study of anatomy, the “elusive” female O, and a Freudian fear of vagina dentata is a couplet introducing dental dams.
Anyway, the only way to do the book justice was to read it aloud myself. Which I have done. You can watch it at this link. I will warn you that I’ve been told it might be NSFW.
I can’t wait to add my own review to the book on Amazon’s website.!