Dr. Seuss is my all-time favorite author of children’s rhyming books. He did not write a sex education book.(1)
Shel Silverstein took over from Seuss as my favorite children’s poet. He did not write a sex-ed book either.(2)
IMHO, no one has equaled those two in writing rhyming books for children, though many have tried. Lord, how they’ve tried. And for the most part, failed miserably.
I once edited a magazine called Early Childhood News, which was intended for an audience of child care center owners, directors, and possibly staff. It was occasionally entertaining.(3) I got a lot of children’s books to review.(4)
Which is where the sex-ed and the poetry come in.(5)
One day an amazing book came across my desk. It was titled How Dad and Mother Made Your Brother, which should have been my first clue.
The book was obviously self-published. To say that it lacked the services of a professional editor and a professional illustrator would be a charming understatement.
The text was written (and illustrated) by a real medical doctor, so I guess that was one up on Dr. Seuss, but it didn’t help. The main characters were – I’m not kidding – Stanley Sperm and Essie Egg.
One memorable illustration(6) showed Stanley and Essie sitting on a bench, courting, I suppose. As I recall Essie had long eyelashes and Stanley had either a top hat or a bow tie. Maybe both. Behind them was the gate to a park, with a sign identifying the location as “Cervix.”
You can probably tell from the bow tie and the park bench that scientific accuracy was not the author’s primary concern. Also, Essie and Stanley were the same size.(7)
And now we get to the poetry. Here’s a sample. The author was attempting to tell where Stanley Sperm had lived, before he met the coy and comely Miss Essie. Somewhat confusingly, it seemed that Stanley had come from one or the other of two towns:
The towns are both named “Testicle”
and they look like two round eggs.
They’re not located on a map,
but between your Daddy’s legs.(8)
Do I have to say I did not review the book? (I thought not.)
I kept it for a time, though, to show disbelieving friends. And possibly as the basis for a party game, with each person reading aloud from it until exploding with laughter, when it would be passed on to the next reader.(9)
Of course, given the sex-ed books currently used in schools, there may be other texts out there that are just as bad, or at least as inaccurate. But for sheer unintentional awfulness, How Dad and Mother Made Your Brother has won its place in the annals of scary books that will make kids never want to have sex. Ever. That being the point of most sex education in schools anyway, as far as I can tell.
(1) That we know of. He did write advertising, so who really knows where he drew the line?
(2) Though he certainly could have. He’s the author/artist of Different Dances and the songwriter of “Don’t Give a Dose to the One You Love Most.”
(3) The ad sales department once insisted I add a column about food, as they desperately wanted to attract Lunchables as a client. Yeah, right. Lunchables. For child care centers. I had no choice in the matter, except for the title of the column, which I made as repulsive as possible – “Food Digest.” Well, it amused me, anyway, even if no one else noticed.
(4) Also, sometimes companies sent me samples of toys they hoped I would promote in the magazine. Not sex toys, though. I also received, for some reason, an anti-circumcision newsletter. I used to count the number of times the word “foreskin” appeared in it, just to look busy.
(5) You were starting to wonder, weren’t you? Go on, admit it.
(6) I’ve been told that only shock treatment will erase it from my memory.
(7) Reminder: The author went to medical school and, presumably, graduated.
(8) I hope that’s enough of a sample, since it is the only verse I memorized. I do recall that the conception scene would have been a real production number, had the book ever made the transition to film.
(9) With bonus points awarded for imitating the voice of Bullwinkle the Moose or possibly Daffy Duck.