Grandpa Burger? and other tear jerkers

I, for one, was not at all shocked or surprised when I heard about Robert Munsch and his various troubles. It seems that individuals who are exceptionally gifted – which I think he is – are frequently troubled by mental problems, which often manifest themselves in addictions. I also think it’s very brave of him to come forward with his problems.

That said, I have never been a fan of his. Love You Forever is one of my most hated children’s book, despite its reputation for being the literature epitome of maternal love. To me, it is creepy, and smarmy, and over the top. And I’m a smarmy and over the top person, but not, I hope, a creepy one. In fact, it is incredibly easy to make me cry. All one needs to do is say, stiffly, “I come watch” as per this commercial and I will get choked up. Another one that makes me cry is the A&W commercial with the cranky older man who receives a Grandpa Burger from his son and daughter-in-law. “Grandpa Burger?” I kind of wish that was how I told my dad about my first pregnancy, instead of the normal “I’m Pregnant” way. During that pregnancy I craved A&W hamburgers all the time. Perhaps it was that commercial that did it? We’ll never know.

So, despite my propensity for emotional tears, Love You Forever has always left me cold. Other childhood books that are immensely popular but that I detest are Where the Wild Things Are, The Chronicles of Narnia, anything by Tolkien, and the Harry Potter series. I know. Everyone loves Harry Potter. A certain relative of my husband’s couldn’t BELIEVE that I don’t like Harry Potter, and quizzed me endlessly on WHY, and what is WRONG with Harry Potter, and don’t I like MAGIC? Apparently I’m not the magical or imaginative type.

The books I loved as a child were those set in the late nineteenth/ early twentieth century featuring a plucky heroine. Does anyone else remember the book What Katy Did? I loved that book as a child, fascinated with the plotline – Katy finally being cured of her tomboyism by becoming an invalid. Awesome! Did anyone besides me read the Elsie books? Now there’s a literary relic if there ever was one. I remember being extremely confused reading those as a child: I had no clue about slavery, Southern culture, or even what a plantation is, and I found all the various family members and marriage age gaps baffling. I also clearly remember the plotline to one of the books: Elsie’s father, angry with her for her literal interpretation of the Bible, withdraws all love and affection until she can submit entirely to his will. Then she almost dies of some feverish, wasting, consumptive disease, and her father decides to not make her a pariah anymore and ends up going to church. It’s a happy ending! A happy ending in Crazy Bad Father Land, I guess.

What children’s books do you loathe and love?


  1. OMG. You are so lucky that this isn’t the first post I’ve read of yours otherwise I may never forgive you. To hate Harry Potter and Tolkien? I feel like I could weep for you. Although to be fair with the exception of The Hobbit, Tolkien didn’t write for children. I had a friend who didn’t like Harry Potter and I pretty much beat her into submission on that. I was relentless and in the end I won. She loves them now. And everyone should.

    I haven’t read Love You Forever. I doubt I will. The title seems designed to make me cry and I resent and hate anything that tries to do that.

    As a kid I loved lots of books but the ones that come to mind are everything LM Montgomery wrote (I was very close to naming my daughter Emily Anne after her two most famous characters), also Secret World of Og, Encyclopedia Brown, and anything by Judy Blume.

  2. Haha Marilyn! You are not the only person to think I’m crazy!

    LM Montgomery is one of the greatest writers ever. And Judy Blume! I forgot about Judy Blume! Love her.

  3. Anonymous says

    I cannot get through Love You Forever without crying. I get where it could be seen as creepy, but personally, it reminds me of my own mother, and brings me to tears EVERY SINGLE TIME. You would think I would stop reading it.

    I loved LM Montgomery and Judy Blume also . . . .for kids books nowadays, anything by Melanie Watt is a big hit in our house.

    And what about this commercial? Brings me to tears too.

    Thanks for writing Nicole, your musings are great!

  4. Oh! I have never seen that commercial! Now I’m crying! What is with Tim’s commercials and their tear-jerkiness!

  5. Tolkien? You do not like Tolkien? HOW?
    I’m a Munschaholic, but many many of my friends are like you and they hate love you forever. Me, not so much.
    On the other hand I have never read Harry Potter (I used to be part of the religious sub-culture that thought they were evil and while I’ve never thought that, I’ve never gotten around to reading them.)
    I pretty much have all the Anne books memorized. Seriously. When I was in grade 5 I pretty much thought I was Anne. (I had issues)

  6. Mrs.Mayhem says

    My little kids want to re-read books so many times that it drives me crazy. The ones that are most bearable (after 5,743 reads) are Verdi, the Olivia series, & Clementine.

  7. Anonymous says

    I heard the other day that “Love You Forever” was a story Robert Munsch made up many years ago as a memory of his son that died at birth or shortly thereafter…. I think it’s a beautiful story of family love.

  8. Hi dear
    Really,I am very surprised for grandpa …………………….
    Kids Birthday Parties Calgary

  9. I love Munsch. I am going with my kids to see him in a couple weeks. I DO however find ‘Love You Forever’ creepy. I have always known it was about a baby that didn’t grow up. I had a copy of the book given to me by a client that I barely knew when I was pregnant with my first, the person was tearing up as they handed it to me and started reciting it, and I was completely unaffected … AWKward moment!

    Little House on the Prairie. Amelia Bedelia and Curious George ( LOVE that crazy monkey )

  10. Eeep, I didn’t know it was about a baby who didn’t grow up. Now I feel bad.

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