Friday, August 28, 2015

My beef with Jimmy Fallon, AKA Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada

Jimmy Fallon is just one of a host of celebrities who likely decide on whim that they are going to write a children's book.  And while the book itself is kind of cute, I have absolutely zero praise to give the entire execution of it. The only thing selling this book is the name on the cover. And the publisher knew it. There is actually no story here. So saying that Jimmy Fallon "wrote" this book is laughable. OK. Yeah. He had an idea for a children's picture book. Whatever. But then for the publisher to make the incredibly ungracious decision to not only leave the illustrator's name off the cover but also include no bio information of the artist on the back flap next to Jimmy's? Not cool.

Jimmy Fallon seems like a gregarious, unassuming sort of person. I have a sense that these types of decisions were purely from those in the marketing department. Regardless, the decisions that were made to go against the normal conventions of a children's picture book make Jimmy out to be an ungracious ego maniac. If you're a celebrity and you're going to tout yourself as an author, then fine, be an author. But don't pretend you "wrote" a book while everyone else does the work and you just slap your name on the cover. There is a great deal of respect and nuance that real children's book authors give to the craft writing that celebrities show absolutely zero respect for. It's nothing but a money grab. Pure and simple. And publishers know it. 

So while I get why publishers put out celebrity children's books (they do, after all, help sell more books and keep their imprints going), I would like there to be some sort of attempt on the celebrity's part to at least acknowledge there is a craft to writing children's books and there are certain conventions that one is expected to uphold. Just having an idea and then forcing your minions to carry that idea out for you does not make you an author. Your name does not deserve to be the only name in big giant letters on the cover of the book. So I'm sorry Jimmy, while I love your show and think you're hilarious, please do us all a favor and don't put out anymore children's books unless you're willing to actually immerse yourself in children's literature and learn the craft. Just being an adult who acts like a big kid does not automatically qualify you to be a children's book author. 

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