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Madeleine Brand: 'Parenting on the Edge'

October 17, 2009 |  9:45 am

GivingTree

We're welcoming a familiar name (and voice) to latimes.com: Madeleine Brand, former host of "Day to Day," the West Coast-based show that NPR canceled this year. (Insert ranting here.)

The good news is that Brand will be collaborating with Times editors, photographers and Web producers to create long-format audio slide shows on parenting. You can click to the podcast to read more of Brand's story and see her first report, but here's a quick taste of what you'll find. Says Brand:

If you’re like me, you have certain picture books that you read over and over to your children. Maybe they were books you loved as a child. Some of those books, however, don’t seem so great now.

"The Rainbow Fish" really gets me. This is a story about a fish with beautiful scales who realizes that the only way he’ll have friends is if he gives away his prized scales to the fish who don’t have them. At first I thought, that’s great. It’s about sharing, about not being vain and selfish. But then I thought, what’s wrong with keeping your beautiful scales? Why do you have to share everything? More important, the book seems to be saying, “Don’t be unique. Don’t be special. Don’t be different.”

"The Rainbow Fish" is mild, though, compared with some other classics. I discussed them with children’s book author Laurel Snyder, who conducted a survey on her blog about her three most-hated picture books: “The Runaway Bunny,” “Love You Forever” and “The Giving Tree.”

That last one is the book I find the most offensive. I remember loving it as a kid, but when I  received 50 copies after the birth of my children, I read it with adult eyes and was horrified. This tree — the mother — keeps giving and giving and giving to a child who keeps taking and taking and taking. He denudes her, literally, until she is a stump, and then at the end, the boy — now a tired, old man — sits on her. The tree says she’s happy — happy to be sat upon.

Hear and see the full conversation unfold and be sure to post your comments here.

-- Craig Nakano

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