Wow. There are no words.
I'm the Silent Wind of Doom, and I've often thought of things to write about in the blogs, but good lord, I just came across something so terrible, I need to share it with the entire community. I have found what is quite possibly the worst children's book of all time, and if there's worse, then I think I may lose all hope in the human race. And believe me, I don't have much faith in people as a whole to begin with.
So, without much further ado, let's take a look at Alfie's Home.
You know those sappy books that talked about dealing with family issues? You know, kind of like a very special episode in book form. Children's books always seem to like getting into territory they probably shouldn't be covering, the authors thinking that they're doing a service by helping children understand the world. In reality, these just confuse or frighten children and provide fodder for people on the internet to mock as they read the equivalent of Pee Wee Herman talking about crack. Sometimes, certain subjects are best handled when presented in a mature form, rather than by crudely drawn Schoolhouse Rock rejects.
Alfie's Home starts out as one of these books.
Alfie's home looks like your average happy home, but Alfie himself is not happy. His father works a lot and is verbally abusive to him. At least they didn't go for the completely cliche'd route by having his father also be an angry drunk. His parents fight, and his brother and sister... well, they will never appear beyond the first page, so forget about them.
Alfie's mother, on the other hand, mentally abuses Alfie by telling him about the problems she has with his father, rather than attempting to shield him from it. Alfie is depressed, wishing that his father would spend more time with him.
See, this is usually the part of the story where something happens. He meets a friend, or finds a secret private spot, or does something that makes him happy. So far, this has been your average corny and sappy children's book. However, this is where it takes a turn.
Good lord! Do I really even have to talk about this page? Let's count the disturbing things about this... First of all, IT'S A DEPICTION OF CHILD MOLESTATION IN A CHILDREN'S BOOK!!! The crude children's book illustration makes it even worse. Oh, and don't even get me started on the look on Uncle Pete's face. It gives me chills. His eyes! THEY'RE STARING INTO MY SOUL!!! And yet, as bad as all this is, do we really need the graphic description in the book's text? Seriously? I mean, I know you want a kid to know what's wrong so he doesn't get tricked like poor Alfie does, but can't you just boil that down to "People don't touch you here. You don't touch people here. You don't keep secrets from your parents." Isn't that all you need. Plus, to add a slight bit more disturbedness, doesn't he kinda look like Linkara's avatar?
Oh, and by the way, we're only a third of the way through the book. I already feel dirty. Can it get worse?
Okay, let's take this one page at a time. First of all, page 8. Really? You're really going to go back to talking about Alfie's parents fighting? Isn't that the least important part of the story at this point? HE JUST GOT MOLESTED!!! No one cares about his parents fighting anymore! That's the least of his problems.
Now, onto page 9. What's the non-curse word you never thought you'd hear in a children's book? Was it said on this page? Unless you have a very dirty mind, it probably was. Seriously, these words are completely unnecessary. Why couldn't you just say that the kids made fun of him? I know that the words make the situation more striking, but if a kid doesn't know any of those words, they know them now!
By the way, I know this is addressed later, but why do they think he's gay? It's never mentioned before this. It's not mentioned on this page. It's just kind of thrown in there. They don't give us a reason for this, or for Alfie's ensuing confusion.
Finally, Alfie gets help, the start of a regimen of psychological care that, given his childhood, will last long into middle-age. Here is where Alfie says he thinks he's gay. Once again... why? Why does he think this? There's never been any clue of this, except for the equally cryptic moment when the kids start calling him gay.
Can we talk for a second about this poster? Why does the counselor have this poster in his office? Why does this poster even exist? What does it mean? Do mothers hold children one way, and fathers another? Does this go for both sons and daughters, or is it flipped for girls? If so, does he have a seperate poster for how parents hold daughters? And why does he keep a little pointer to point at this poster with? This poster doesn't help illustrate his point at all! Really, in reality, it's just so because they thought that another picture of them sitting together and talking would be too boring, so they threw in this situation just for an extra illustration.
At least this poster makes more sense (although I still don't know why he can't just point with his finger). This is how the whole matter of sexual abuse should have been handled from the beginning. Although I will deduct points for the kid in the poster having less hair than Charlie Brown. Seriously, why add hair at all if you're just gonna draw three short strands at random parts of the head?
And, finally, we understand why the other kids called Alfie gay. He was trying to get affectionate with the other boys in school because of the lack of affection he got from his dad. Although I must say, the other kid seems eerily all right with the situation in the lower illustration. It would have been nice if we'd had just one page addressing this before the issue of Alfie thinking he was gay came up. Then that part and the shouting of insults by the kids would have actually made some sense!
All in all, these seem to be the best pages so far in the book, but that's just because THEY FIXED SOME OF THE ISSUES PRESENTED EARLIER IN THE BOOK!!! But wait, there's more.
So the counselor decides to talk to Alfie's parents. He calmly discusses with his parents Alfie's situation. I know that Time Touch Talk is some nice alliteration, but given the context, given what's occured earlier in this book, the connotations of the word "touch" seem to kinda put a shadow on this seen. Speaking of which, the counselor says he's gonna make sure Uncle Pete get's help. He means that he's calling the cops, right?
Finally, the classic moment of any children's book that deals with terrible real-life issues: the point where everything is resolved in a couple of pages.
Uncle Pete seems contrite, although I still can't get the image of that face out of my head. Oh, that face. I'm gonna be having nightmares tonight, I can tell you that. By the way, they're not just confronting him, are they? They're going to call the cops... right?
And now, it's time for a sentence that you would never expect to see in a children's book. This sentence is so at ends with the entire situation, the entire idea of a children's book, that it made me laugh harder than Rollo-T when he thinks of Tounces the Cat Who Can Drive a Car...
"Now I realize that I'm not gay." What kind of statement is that for a children's book? You know what? I don't think I'd expect to see that in any kind of print media except for the kind of fanfic that you'd see featured in Bennett's Masterpiece Fanfic Theater.
So, in the end, all Alfie needed was his dad's love, and that made everything better. No, he didn't need years of therapy. All he needed was his dad's love.
This book sucks! It is not nearly appropriate for children, and it's presented in a way that would turn off anyone who's not a child. Then again, with its shortness and illustrations, it has to be aimed at small children. Its only real appeal is for people to laugh at how bad it is, people like us.
I hope you've gotten a laugh out of this look at what is possibly the worst children's book ever, and if you didn't, then I hope it's at least scarred you for life like it has me. I don't plan on making this a series, although I could if the people wish, and if you out there can submit to me some more horrible children's books. Can you find a book worse than Alfie's Home? Good lord, I hope not.