Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tight Times--Barbara Shook Hazan

In honor of Our Upcoming Economic Collapse, I wanted to draw some attention to this book from 1979. It's got a good little applicable message --the 5 year old narrator tries to understand why his mom and dad are so tense, he can't have a dog, and why he has to eat lima bean things as the family pulls together when they're broke.

What really makes the book is Trina Schart Hyman's pencil drawings and how they convey the delightful 1970's-ness of the story. They're done in b&w with nice detail, and they really do look like what I remember my childhood seeming.

I mean, on the first page Mommy's on the bed in her bra sewing a button on her blouse before going to work, and Mommy's got little rolls of fat. Mommy also has huge glasses. After Daddy loses his job, "Then Daddy fixed us both special drinks" and it's obvious that Daddy's drink comes from the economy sized bottle vodka behind him. Shades of Sesame Street, Mommy and Daddy send their boy out onto the stoop to wait while they talk about their troubles. When's the last time you saw any of this in media aimed at kids?

A good book for kids, but one that GenX might also get a kick out of.

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