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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fake Children’s Books: What the Books We Make Up Say About Us

If you missed the recent 100 Scope Notes post I Will Not Retreat to a Book Cave to Eat Taco Bell then you are in for a treat. I agree with everything he has to say about this weirdly out-of-touch librarian, but one part of the Taco Bell commercial in which she appears struck me as particularly interesting. It’s this:

KanineCrash

If you’re having difficulty seeing, the book is apparently called Kanine Crash (shouldn’t it be “Kanine Krash”?) by “Eugene Chang”. Now what we have here is yet another case of Fake Children’s Books. Happens all the times in movies and commercials. No one wants to feature an actual book so they bend over backwards to make fake ones. And, a lot of the time, actual working artists are called in to provide the art and details.

When Travis posted the video I asked if he wanted to do a joint post on the subject. He politely declined but he did point out yet another case of multiple fake children’s books:

MoonriseKingdom

It’s no secret that Anderson is a children’s literature fanatic. Between the From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler reference in The Royal Tenenbaums and the adaptation of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, it’s probably just a matter of time before he makes his own children’s book (Chuck Dugan is AWOL doesn’t count).

In the image above you’re seeing a still from Moonrise Kingdom. In that film these are the books being read by the kids. It’s a kind of fascinating deep dive into the kinds of book jackets you would have seen on children’s literature in the 70s/early 80s. Fascinating stuff.  Here are some more:

DoozlesDozing

Doozles Are Dozing is the name of this one, and you’ll see it in the trailers for The Incredibles 2. No word on who the fake author is. This pairs rather nicely with another fake bedtime book from a CGI film:

ThreeSleepyKittens1

Sleepy Kittens is actually rather important part of the plot in the first Despicable Me movie. Apparently the writer Cinco Paul said it was based on  Three Little Bunnies by Nicola Smee from way back in 1994. Also of note is the fact that after it was in the movie, Little, Brown & Co. decided to put out an actual Sleepy Kittens book. I kid you not. Behold:
SleepyKittens

You’ll note that the author of the actual book is the aforementioned Cinco Paul alongside Ken Daurio and illustrator Eric Guillon.

For this next book series, the sheer amount of work that was poured into these books is impressive. Remember the film Gone Girl? Remember how Amy was turned into the heroine of her parents’ picture book series? Well artist Kirk Van Wormer made a whole series of covers for those books. Behold what I consider the creme de la creme of fake book publishing, right down to the fake award sticker on the front.

AmazingAmy1

AmazingAmy3

AmazingAmy5

 

 

And the piece de resistance:

AmazingAmy4Note the journal in the oven.

Finally, it’s not a true fake children’s book round-up without everyone favorite scary pop-up guy:

babadookgay1

Not his scariest picture. Say, do you remember that time Netflix accidentally put the horror film The Babadook in the LGBTQ category and the internet lost its friggin’ mind? Go look up Google images of Babadook + LGBTQ sometime for fun. It just makes me so happy. Here is how the book actually appears in the film:

Babadook1

babadook2

Babadook3

Babadook7

Babadook4

The Babadook, by the way, is about a super scary pop-up book. I did a post about it alongside Gone Girl back in 2015, if you’d like lots of information on it. Long story short, the book’s artist was Alex Juhasz. Would love to see some actual children’s books out of this guy sometime.

What have I missed? I know fake children’s books crop up in all sorts of places. Any egregious ones come to your mind?

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. There is Terry Pratchett’s Where’s My Cow, the book Inspector Vines (in the Discworld novels) reads (and adapts) during his nightly reading to his son.

  2. Anamaria Anderson says:

    And there’s a book called Realm+Conquest in the movie Michael Clayton (https://anamaria-anderson.squarespace.com/blog/2008/2/13/realm-conquest.html).

  3. Jerrold Connors says:

    The one I’ve always wished was real is Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooey from Calvin and Hobbes.

  4. Ramona Price says:

    It’s unclear whether it’s children’s, teen or adult, but in the TV series The Middle, the youngest son is obsessed with a sci fi/fantasy series called Planet Nowhere, which is popular enough in their world to have cosplay, conventions etc. Maybe a Harry Potter analog, though not as dominant in the culture and with a more space/sci-fi bent.

  5. Olivia Lake’s book, Whose Woods Are These, with Sharon Stone in HBO’s Mosaic, surely the most unrealistic portrait of a children’s book author ever.

  6. Also, Nancy on Thirtysomething with the children’s book career–I believe they dropped in Michael Hague illustrations to represent her work & I hope paid him handsomely.

  7. Really interesting post! Unfortunately, I don’t have anything useful to add to it, but I wanted to thank you for the post and the links. I went on an interesting internet walk tonight.

  8. Good call, Monica. There’s also The World of Poo, which young Sam Vimes adores when he’s older in Snuff, and which also was turned into a real book.

  9. Yes, Ramona, I’m a huge fan of The Middle and I remember one episode in which the youngest son (Brick) and his sister (Sue) went to a Planet Nowhere convention. One of the other things I admire about that show is how they accurately use real books that for the characters. Brick is a true book nerd (he has his own key to the public library) and I remember one episode in which he at home and next to him was a Garth Nix book! Sue once gushed about she had “read every word John Green has written.”

  10. Echoing Annemarie’s comment, Realm & Conquest in the Michael Clayton movie is the one that comes to mind. I thought they used that fake book pretty convincingly there, however.
    This is a really fun post. I hadn’t realized there were so many fake children’s books in movies!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Fake books for kids in movies are equivalent to fake video games in books for kids. Another bugaboo of mine.

  11. The World’s Angriest Boy in the World! In FX’s Legion, David is haunted by the eponymous character from this Edward Gorey-esque book. It’s VERY morbid, though I did have to check that it wasn’t an ACTUAL Edward Gorey book because who knows how dark his little-knowns might have gotten…!