is here. I really do feel awful saying mean things about music. I feel less awful criticizing books, for some reason. Maybe that’s because you can often listen to a snippet of music online and figure out if it’s to your taste, whereas with books you don’t know it’s good until you read the whole thing. (When it comes to children’s books, at least, I disagree with that famous author — I forget who — who said, “One does not have to eat the whole egg to know it is rotten.” Who said that, again?)
Sure, sometimes you can smell the stench of eggy badness immediately. But sometimes you can’t. And I want to know if a book is worth my and my kids’ time! It seems to me that very few consumer-mag reviewers talk about books (at least books by non-celebs) that suck. I want the precise delineation of suck. For instance, I’m always looking for a great Jewish kids’ book, not just ANY Jewish kids’ book. I’m not a cheerleader for Jewish books. I see myself as an advocate for parents, not publishers — better to read an incredible secular book than a crappy Jewish one.
For instance, look at Menorah Under the Sea, by Esther Susan Heller. I was pretty specific about its flaws on goodreads: We don’t care about the main character, a marine biologist; we don’t really learn about the science he does; the book is clunkily written and seems to randomly switch tenses. I hope the author writes great stuff in the future. God knows I’ve written a lot of dreck myself, and yet I sometimes get it right.
But with music, I feel horrid when I say I don’t like something. Maybe I trust my own taste less? Or I’m more comfortable acknowledging that reasonable people can disagree about what’s good?
Even the CDs I thought were unlistenable are listenable by SOMEBODY. And my point about whether adults really have to like kid music, and vice versa, stands. I may make loud gagging noise at some of the discs I received this year, but my kids might not, and God love ’em. I recall a time when The Hardy Boys, starring Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson, was the BEST FRIGGIN THING EVER ON TELEVISION, and I would not want my parents telling me Great Performances on PBS was better. What did they know. What do I know.