Book Review: Life of Shouty: Good Habits

In illustrated children’s books,  appearances count.  For the youngest readers and pre-readers much information is conveyed by the illustrations in story books.   And it seems to me that a paunchy, middle aged man with a pointy pin head is hardly the ideal protagonist to teach children about developing good habits.    While I am a huge fan of quality children’s books written in rhyming verse,  both the subject matter (instilling good habits) and Neon Seon’s treatment of it,  do not really lend themselves to nursery rhymes and Seon clearly lacks the skill of masters like Theodore Geisel or Shel Silverstein.

Shouty is a middle aged man who hangs out in his underwear,  watching tv in his messy home,  as his bills go past due and his life is just an all around mess.    It appears he is offered as a cautionary tale to children,  an illustration of what they might become if they do not develop good habits.    The last third of the book deals with Shouty’s attempts to turn over a new leaf and begin developing good habits.   Part of the problem with this book is that the “good habits” Shouty resolves to develop are poorly defined.  Most children, for instance, do not have bills to pay,  and most parents probably do not permit them to lie around watching television in their underwear all day.

Concerned that I was perhaps being too harsh on  author Neon Seon’s creation,  I shared this volume with children’s book author Holly Jahangiri.  (Trockle; A Puppy, Not A Guppy)   Jahangiri echoed my concerns and stated that as a mother,  she would not be comfortable with the protagonist of a children’s book who appears to be a paunchy, middle-aged man who goes about in his underwear.   While it is certainly true that children should be taught good habits and encouraged to keep them,  sadly this volume would be of very little utility in realizing that goal.

Life Of Shouty:  Good Habits–  NOT Recommended.