Tuesday 12 January 2010

A bit of a beef with 'Chirp'

Alexandria had a subscription to Chirp - Owl Kids' magazine for the preschool set. This has now been passed onto Zachary. Really, it doesn't matter whose name is on the label, they both enjoy it. The magazine is great. We love it. We even inherited a bunch of back copies from an older kid. Needless to say, we have LOTS of Chirps in this house. I have never had an issue with any of the stories, poems or crafts or anything else in the magazine..... Until today.

Zach and I were sitting together, reading through the new issue. (Which is - yay! - a dinosaur issue. This issue will be read over and over and over.)

We came to the story on page 18 - 'The Day the Dinos Flew.'

Here's the basic rundown:
Teri Dactyl's flying around. The dinos want him to show them how to fly the skies, too. Actually, you know what? I'm just going to put the middle bit right here for you:

"It's so simple," she replies.
"Flip-flap, whip-zip, I'm in the skies."
"Just follow me to that steep ledge
and all line up along the edge."

Ok... this is where I started going.... 'Wha?....' But I perservered thinking the story will turn around.

"I'll teach you how to sail the breeze
but first join in my singing, please!"

They sing for a bit.. then..

They reach the cliff, peer down in space.
Fear and terror fill each face.
The dinos quake, shake; some swoon down.
Some cry, some scream, some turn around.

Alright....  At least the dinosaurs have a rational fear....

"Relax, at ease and have no fear.
Flip-flap, whip-zip must be our cheer."
The crowd calms down at Teri's words.
"Now," she says, "let's think like birds.
Wiggle those bums and thrash those tails.
Stretch your limbs for smooth sky sails."

Ok, so the pteradactyl is still trying to convince them to jump off the cliff... Let's return to our dinos to see if they will listen to Teri..

"Flip-flap, whip-zip," they rhapsodize.
"Flip-flap, whip-zip, we'll soar the skies."
Up whips the wind, they all take flight.
Dino shadows block the light.

What the...?! Are you following me here? The dinosaurs - in a PRESCHOOLERS' magazine - just jumped off a cliff because they were convinced they could fly!! But I'm sure this story will end with them realizing they can't fly, right? (And hopefully not dying a terrible, horrible death...)

The sky is packed with dinosaurs.
All shapes and sizes, full of roars.
The gently glide close to the ground,
then smooth-land down and gaze around.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Not only did they just convince non-flying animals (which would include my kids!) that they could jump off a cliff and fly, they just showed that it will all be ok if you do jump off that cliff! Go ahead kids! Jump off tables, dressers, cabinets, chairs, rooftops... because, you know what? You'll be able to fly when you get up there. You'll just gently glide down!

And then the story REINFORCES it!!

The cliff's above and they're below.
"We flew!" they scream. "What do you know?"
"Flip-flap, whip-zip, we soared the skies.

Flip-flap, whip-zip believe your eyes!"

Am I crazy here? I am overreacting? Or is this not the WORST. IDEA. EVER for a magazine geared toward kids as young as three?!

Help me out here. Let me know what you think...


Natalie @Nat_Rea said...

If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you? (my mother's voice is ringing in my head). How ridiculous! Letter to the Editor is in order...


Rebecca said...

I am sooo glad you posted this! We read the same story when our mag came and I stopped before finishing it outloud - I was all 'what the?!'. Not a fan. And trust me, I LOVE Chirp, but they went wrong here.

DebC said...

Oh Jacki. That's nuts. What a message to send to little kids with already insanely active imaginations and no concept of limitations and consequences.

You are right on track with your reaction

Yukari said...

Hey, I am NOT the overreacting type, but I am totally concerned about this one. I'm almost glad my 16 month old is not reading this. Yikes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jacki,
I am the editor of Chirp Magazine. I just saw your blog post and would love to talk further with you about this story. Please email me at jackie.farquhar@owlkids.com
I look forward to hearing from you,

JackiYo said...

For those of you who are curious about Chirp's reply, here's most of it:

"Thank you for contacting me. We strive to make Chirp accessible to all readers, parents and teachers and so we take parent feedback very seriously.

We commissioned Robert Heidbreder, a well-respected children's author, to create a rhyming dinosaur story. We knew he would create a silly, make-believe tale to add some play and fantasy in the otherwise fact-based issue.But we understand your concerns regarding children’s safety and we will take your them into account in commissioning Chirp stories in the future. As you point out, our readers are just learning how to distinguish between what’s possible in real-life experience and the imaginative world of fiction. We hope that you and your family enjoyed the rest of the Dinosaur issue and that you were able to talk to your children about this story and the power of reading to imagine things we would — and should — never do."

I appreciate the almost immediate contact and reply from Jackie, Chirp's editor. This was the first and only time I've ever seen anything in their magazines go off the rails a bit.

We continue to enjoy the magazines. (Just won't be reading this story..)

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