Date Read: June 4th, 2021
Final Score: 0.5 / 10 !
Whelp. This was awful.
I mean, I didn't expect it to be any good, but this was definitely beyond the pale of truly terrible. I don't review Picture Books often, because I think the whole category of media is a largely useless bit of capitalism (aimed at price-gouging parents far more than actually educating or entertaining kids), but there are always gems to prove me wrong and when I find them I make a note of it.
This is NOT one such gem. But it gets a review because Megan Malarkey is Significant-TM (which is a thing I find distasteful in and of itself, because the fact that this psychopath can get such drivel published just because she's famous makes it that much harder for good writers to get published... across all categories. I'm not even trying to get published in the Picture Book medium, but I still feel bad for all the potentially good Picture Book authors who are still sending queries to the Void...
Now, full disclosure: I did request this ARC and I did go into reading it with a distinct bias against the author. But I am well practiced at ensuring that my personal tastes do not overshadow my ability to objectively assess media based on a fairly standardized rubric.
This book is, objectively, not good.
But regarding the meat of the story... there really isn't any. There's at most, 10 words per page.
There's no steady cadence or rhythm in which the words flow, and worse yet, the awkwardly aligned phrases are often broken up and split between pages that require a page-turn to complete.
The rhyme scheme is even more awkward, rarely managing to be more than slant-rhyme (but clearly aiming for rhyme, a Picture Book doesn't have to rhyme, but when it's clear that it's trying to do so, it needs to actually do it), and to manage even that much it uses vocabulary that goes WAY over the heads of most audiences (even when acknowledging that the kiddos are not the actual target audience). Seriously, it uses 2 and 3 syllable words most of the time, and then breaks out a 4 or 5 syllable word to make a sort-of rhyme every few phrases.
And then there's that pesky target audience thing... Purportedly the story is meant to show 'the love between a father and son as through the eyes of the mother'... Which is a way too complicated concept for kiddos below age 4 to wrap their heads around. But then also... if mum is reading the story, it almost works, but it was release as a pre-father's day push, so it seems to be indicative that the father should be the one reading it (you know, to actually spend time bonding with le bebe, and actually being a father...). And beyond all that, it's a pretty basic rule of picture books that either a character that the child can pretend is THEM is the main focus or the book is addressed to the child (a la 'All the Places You'll Go' by Seuss or 'Welcome: a Guide for New Arrivals' by Mo Willems...). And this one... isn't either of those options. It doesn't even really pretend to have anything much to do with the kids... like at all.
It's more addressed to the Father than to the kiddo, and it's all very saccharine and condescending... Like 'oh yes, some days will be hard, but that's why life is beautiful' and such. No actual argument that bad days are okay, or that good days are still worth it. It's all just 'good vibes only' and if you don't just accept that without protest, you get kicked out of the treehouse...
Finally, the thing that I'm MOST pissed about: Megan Markle is NOT the feckin Duchess of Sussex.
At BEST, she is Princess Henrietta of Wales.
She has no title or role in the Firm anymore, MegXit saw to that over a year ago. Harry will always be a Prince, because that's a bloodline thing, not a job title, (and therefore, Meghan will be tangentially a Princess so long as they remain married), but Duke/Duchess is a JOB TITLE and they both quit those jobs, quite spectacularly (more on that HERE.).
You don't get to say on the cover of a book that you're a Lawyer with Stark & Stark if you've quit the firm and spent the last year dragging the company's name through the mud like you've got gum on your heel... You can maybe mention it in the 'About the Author' bit, but even that is tasteless and crass. But to put it on the COVER?
That's just disgusting.
I admit, this is a big point of bias I have against the Sussex Psychopaths, but like, if they were normal employees of a normal company, this would be a sue-able-offense... They would owe their company millions in damages.
And I can promise you that the bias I have against this wannabe-Royal is not just because she's flouting a title to earn money she doesn't need, or a bias against Royalty in general. In fact I LOVE real royals.
I even like their picture books.
Like Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan's, book 'The Sandwich Swap' is adorable, well written, and has a very poignant moral. AND the Actual, Reigning QUEEN OF A COUNTRY has put her name and title tastefully at the top of the book in small font. Her focus is on the story and the kids who will be reading it.
Unlike Megan who has put the title that she doesn't have anymore and puts her husband (not her) at like 7th in line for the throne... Who put her name and title in the exact center of the cover and gave it a huge font that's only relatively small-seeming due to the excessively massive size of the one-word-title. Even when she was an active Senior Royal, she and Harry were third-tier, at best. The focus of the universe will always be Will & Kate, as they are the heirs and represent the future of England and the Royal Family. And Malarkey simply could not deal with the fact that she had to play second fiddle.
This picture book is nothing but a money grab.
And, in addition to not being any good, I think it's a pretty dang despicable move.