Rule breakers love their children, too, and now there’s a book to prove it. But not everyone thinks it’s such a great idea.
A new illustrated children’s book that purports to teach children about the joys of anarchy has come under fire for its anti-establishment, off-the-grid message, which some think is a slap in the face to capitalism.
“A Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy” (Manic D, 2012) was written by John Seven and Jana Christy, a husband-and-wife author-illustrator team from North Adams, Mass. The book offers youngsters such radical advice as “think for yourself” and “give stuff away for free” while suggesting they “paint pictures on your TV, forget about grocery stores and get dirty in your garden.”
A Publishers Weekly reviewer seemed to see the lighthearted humor in the concept, calling the book, “the softer side of anarchy, with an emphasis on fun and independence, but also community and kindness.” However, the reviewer also admitted that adult readers are likely to be taken aback by such lines as, “When someone says ‘Work!', you say 'Why?'” and “No baths ever again!”
Tea party activist Eric Odom, of the Liberty News Network, was not so forgiving. In a November blog post, he called the book’s publication “downright shocking to me.” Odom, the managing director of LNN, was particularly disconcerted that the left-wing educational theorist Bill Ayers -- whom he referred to as “Obama’s buddy” -- endorsed the book on its Amazon page, where Ayers wrote that “A Rule to Break” is a “delight to read.”
Judging from user comments on Odom’s article, readers were livid. One commenter suggested that the proper response to a children’s book about anarchy is to burn said book on a school lawn, and another even wondered why someone hasn’t cut Ayers’s throat.
“A Rule Is to Break” was published in November by Manic D, a small publishing company based in San Francisco. The book began last year as a Kickstarter project, which the authors used to raise $1,320 to self-publish it. Publishing the book was timed with the Occupy movement, and the authors say they handed out copies at Occupy encampments in some cities.
“We’ve seen that the publishing industry is only now beginning to discover an untapped market that represents scores of families who live outside the mainstream,” the authors wrote in their original proposal. “We are artists, homeschoolers, unschoolers, punk rockers, DIYers and families who represent social points of view that promote independent thinking, non-conformity, creativity, compassion and self-expression.”
In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Jennifer Joseph, a publisher at Manic D, shrugged off any controversy the book has attracted. “The tea party doesn’t like ‘A Rule Is to Break’ because it’s anti-capitalism,” she said in the interview.
Jennifer Swihart Voegele, a marketing director for the book’s distribution company, told PW that the book is “doing well” and that she expects the tea party snub to increase sales (although she did not say whether that’s a good or bad thing for a book that encourages kids to give things away for free).
“A Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy” retails for $14.95 and is suggested for children 4 and up. You can pick one up for your little rabble-rouser here.