Event alert! Sex and Violence in Children’s Books at the PEN World Voices Festival


A still from a pilot episode of The Muppet Show.

Hey, literary New Yorkers! Sex! Violence! Also, The PEN World Voices Festival has been going on this week—and this weekend, they’ve got not one but two children’s lit events! Children’s books are literature, YESSSSSSSS! And psst, the organizer tells me: “You can also pass on the discount codes: PEN14 or PEN2014. I think it’s 20%.”

Sex and Violence in Children’s Books: Where The Wild Things (Really) Are, with Sarwat Chadda, Robie Harris, Susan Kuklin, Sharyn November, and Niki Walker – Sunday, May 4, 12:30 pm, Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square

So, sex and violence. I want to digress a bit, to let you all know that I took the reckless step of Googling “sex and violence in children’s books” to find an image for this post. The results were disappointingly un-scandalizing, but look what was in the first row of results! And since I am an honest blogger who doesn’t just steal other people’s images, I am going to editorialize about this image for a second, because fair use. Okay, no, really because MUPPETS.

According to the Muppet Wiki (yes!), this episode parodies the growth of sex and violence on television, which I’m guessing was new enough in the 1970s to warrant a bit of social commentary, and features the Seven Deadly Sins embodied as Muppets. But what I really like about this image is the wild-eyed look on the Muppet’s face as he readies the explosion.* If I had to sum up my own sense of humor with a facial expression, this would be it.

Anyway, this should be an amazing panel discussion. I mean, look at the lineup.

How to Write a (Super) Hero, with Sarwat Chadda and Christopher Farley – Saturday, May 3, 3:00 pm, SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street

First of all, I’m pleased to learn there is still a subculture (or at least a SubCulture) on Bleecker Street, amidst all the designer clothes and fancy cupcakes and dog salons and stuff.

This one is for [older] kids, and it’s about world-building, mythology, and heroic quest stories. Awesome.

AND! Here’s a BONUS PUPPET EVENT! It’s called A Procession of Confessions, and it is surveillance-themed, featuring the Processional Arts Workshop, the same big-puppet builders who put on the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. These people know how to do spectacle. This event is not specifically for kids, but I’d say it’s not not for kids, either, so bring ’em. Sunday, May 4, 5:00, in front of Cooper Union.

*My favorite piece of Jim Henson wisdom: if you don’t know how to end a piece, either make something explode or have one of the characters eat the other.