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5 Horrible Ideas for Children’s Books that were actually published

September 11, 2019

A lot of non-writers  think children’s books are easy to write.  From their points of view, a children’s book author just needs to write down a cliché positive message and draw some colorful pictures, and the children’s book is ready for publication.  It’s true that anybody can write a forgettable children’s book.  It’s difficult, however, to put together a book that kids will want to read over and over again.

Because of this, authors and publishers have come up with some truly horrible ideas for children’s books.

Below are five horrible ideas for children’s books that were actually published:

1.   Go The F**k To Sleep and You Have To F*****g Eat and now F*CK Now There Are Two of You by Adam Mansbach

Putting profanity in a book title is the cheapest of cheap ploys to sell books.  Yeah, it works, but it’s still a cheap ploy.  It’s even worse when you censor the vowels.  If you’re going to be edgy, be edgy enough to spell out the profanity.  Profanity in a book title is a sign of desperation, but the worst is when you put the profanity in a children’s book title.

The first F**k book by Adam Mansbach,  Go The F*ck To Sleep, amused some adult readers for a few pages, but almost everyone agreed that the premise gets old quickly, even when Samuel L. Jackson reads it out loud.  My two-year-old daughter (a member of the target audience) didn’t think the book was very entertaining, and the next day her day care called to tell me my daughter was yelling the F-word and giggling demonically.

I don’t blame my parenting; I blame the author… and the day care.  Always blame the day care.

The second book, You Have To F*****g Eat, didn’t add anything new to the schtick, but this time I kept it away from my kids.  Now the author has a third(?) book, F*ck, Now There Are Two of You , which makes the parents sound ungrateful.  This latest book looks like it’s the same schtick, which had already gotten old by the end of the first book.

If the author Mansbach wants to revive the tired franchise, I’d suggest a change of attitude in about 15-20 years with F*ck Yeah, Now We Have Grandkids!

2.   Healthy Holly  by Catherine Pugh and illustrated by some guy who probably didn’t know what he was getting himself into

Maybe the idea of Healthy Holly wasn’t so bad.  Alliteration combined with better nutrition for children sounds like a good idea if executed correctly.  Unfortunately, the author Catherine Pugh was at the time the mayor of Baltimore and forced an obscure city department to buy thousands of overpriced copies of her book.  Eventually, Mayor Pugh got caught and had to resign.  Very few copies of Healthy Holly have been found, so few that that speculators believe that one day they will become collector’s items.

Healthy Holly had some problems, even without the political corruption.  It was a message book.  Children’s books shouldn’t be “message” books.  If there’s a message in a children’s book, it should be incidental and look accidental.

I’ve heard prison food isn’t too healthy.  Then again, corrupt politicians rarely get prison time.  Still, Healthy Holly was a pretty horrible idea.

3.   Give Please A Chance by James Patterson and Bill O’Reilly

Give Please A Chance is the kind of children’s book that makes parody obsolete.  Bill O’Reilly is known for one of the greatest meltdowns in television history (it never gets old).  He’s also known for getting kicked off FOX News because of sexual harassment allegations against him.  He was also known for loud opinions and slightly confrontational interviews.  When it comes to writing books about saying the word “please,” Bill O’Reilly might not have been the best choice.

His coauthor James Patterson has sold more books than just about anybody.  He also coauthors most of those books, so we don’t how many of those books he’s really written, and most of those books are really crappy, so at the very least, James Patterson has put his name on more crappy books than anybody else.

You can tell that James Patterson was involved with Give Please A Chance because each page has only one or two sentences, just like most of his novels.  You can’t tell what Bill O’Reilly contributed to this book.  Still, Give Please A Chance shouldn’t have been given a chance, at least not by these two authors.

4.  The Berenstain Bears  by Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain

I don’t have anything against the original Berenstein Bears but, it was a horrible idea to change their names from Berenstein to Berenstain.  Everybody knows it was originally The Berenstein Bears. I read a bunch of Berenstein Bears books when I was a kid.  Everybody remembers it as The Berenstein Bears.  Then somewhere along the way, the powers that be changed the name to The Berenstain Bears.

I don’t why they did this.  I don’t know how they came into my house and switched out the books without ever getting caught by anybody.  Millions of books all over the world got switched out and nobody was caught.  There are even a few psychopaths who claim that it’s been The Berenstain Bears the entire time and that we either have bad memories or are lazy readers.   I don’t trust anybody who says it’s been the Berenstain Bears the whole time.  I don’t know what the truth is, but that’s not it.

I know things are getting bad because I just saw a copy of Frankenstain by Mary Shelly at the local bookstore.

Wait a minute.  Hasn’t it always been Frankenstain?

5.  The English Roses  and other books by… Madonna????

My first reaction when I heard that Madonna writing children’s books was… Why the heck is Madonna writing children’s books?

If I remember correctly, Madonna became famous in the mid-1980s by marketing “provocative” music videos to pre-teen girls.  A decade later she put out a coffee table book called Sex.  Yeah, I’m leaving out a lot of information, but everybody knows who Madonna is.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have nothing against a celebrity who writes a sex book.  But if you write a sex book, you shouldn’t write children’s books.  You do one or the other.  If you do both, you’re just greedy.

I’m not sure why Madonna would have wanted to write/market children’s books.  I’m suspicious of the motivations behind it.  Out of all the books on this list, this was the worst idea.  Ironically, the books aren’t bad.  The illustrator did a good job, which is 90% of a children’s book.  I didn’t see anything sexual or deviant in the book.  I didn’t read the book word-for-word because it seems kind of girlie, but maybe… it… wasn’t… bad.


Even though I’m a parent, I’m not an expert on children’s book.  Still, it was easy coming up with five horrible ideas for children’s books that still got published.  What do you think?  What books did I miss?  What horrible ideas for children’s books have you seen?


  1. I think it’s a horrible idea for publishers to publish a celebrity’s children’s book simply because the celebrity is a celebrity. I know what they’re thinking. They’re thinking they’ll sell tons of books because the author is a celebrity. But celebrity books pretty much suck every time. Jimmy Fallon’s book? Sucked. Madonna’s too. I heard the John Lithgow one was pretty good. But most of them suck. Paul McCartney has one out now. I love Paul McCartney, but I flipped through his book and it looked like it kind of sucked. Plus, he doesn’t need the money, he’s got over a billion dollars (maybe he’s donating the profits, though, I don’t know). And for every celebrity who published a sucky children’s book, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of really good ones by non-celebrities that didn’t get published, which is very uncool.

  2. Why do writers use cop-outs like f**k? Irritating. Either write the word in full or find a different expression.

    Books by famous people? It depends. Someone might be well-known in some other sphere and still be a good writer. I know Prince Charles wrote a book for children. I’ve not read it but I suspect many people bought it just to support one of his charities like The Prince’s Trust. No harm in that, though I suspect book publishers will go for a famous name rather than a well-written book Hard on struggling writers trying to get into this market.

    • Everybody knows what f**k means, so it’s kind of senseless to do it. Just write it weird like KcuF. That might make it interesting at least.

  3. I haven’t seen the Madonna’s book, but I disagree with it being included. If anything, her book shows a total dedication to her fan base: when he fans a pre-teens, she writes pre-teen-targeted songs. 10 years later, her fans are older and are more into sex, and Madonna puts out a sex book. Years later, her fans are now having kids, and Madonna writes a children’s book.

    • “…when her fans are pre-teens…”

      • Your logic makes sense. A lot of celebrities probably write children’s book because they know their fans are parents. Most celebrities haven’t written coffee table books about sex (with pictures), though.

        Or maybe they have, and I just haven’t seen them. That would be a lot of coffee table books about sex.

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