Toddler Tollarp is two today. When his mother invited us to an Easter lunch last week (I was very grateful because no one ever invited me/us to a proper Swedish Easter lunch in all my Easters here), we felt we wanted to bring an early birthday present. Daughter had rather fallen for those books we saw in Oxford the week before, and wanting to engage in some massive brainwashing she ordered a few books for Toddler Tollarp.
Let’s just say that they had never expected books like that!
Rocket Science for babies, and General Relativity for babies. Yeah, at two he is slightly too young, but you need to start in time. I think the books are intended for children a few years older, but no self-respecting five-year-old – or his/her parents – would look at a board book at that stage.
Because that’s what they are, and quite sensibly too. Larger than a baby board book, so it fits in with the serious nature of the subjects. And being a board book it should withstand the young genius through some rough times (unlike that train book Son killed over a couple of years) and plenty of re-reads.
However, if the child and his/her adults also see the title XXX for babies, the baby-ness of the board book will be reinforced. And then where will you be? Who is it to be for, and who will buy it? A baby will almost always be somewhat young for Quantum Physics. Even if starting early is good.
(I occasionally suspect that commissioning editors aren’t always aware of the facts of life. Titles like Quantum Entanglement for babies are so attractive. But are they truthful? And then there is the board book aspect.)
It is time we take back control of board books and their juvenile looks. The sturdy quality is good for years, and a child will generally like a beloved book for a long time. All we need is for the adults not to tidy them away prematurely.
Chris Ferrie, who has written a whole host of these clever little books, is on to a good thing. At least if pride doesn’t get in the way.
(If I seem confused re book titles, it’s because all this quantum stuff is now twirling round in my brain and I no longer recall which book is which. But they are all good, and all seem to be about balls…)