For those of you who are not aware of my recent change of job, I just started working in the Children’s Department of the Montclair Public Library. Things are going pretty well so far; it’s really not much of a change from my old job at the Bloomfield Library (which I left about a year ago). Anyway, I was sitting at the desk the other day and overheard a woman reading a book to her kid. Before she started it, I heard her say that it was Jerry Seinfeld’s book, Halloween. I had no idea that Jerry Seinfeld had ever written a children’s book, so I was interested to hear what it was all about.
As I continued to listen to her read, it turned out that the content of the book was actually the Halloween bit from his old act—pretty much word for word. How do I know? When he did his Broadway show, I’m Telling You for the Last Time, in 1999, I ended up getting the CD and listened to it many, many times. I guess it’s still stored up in my subconscious somewhere.
Needless to say, I was pretty surprised that Seinfeld would just regurgitate an old act and market it as a children’s book. Aside from the lackluster effort and absence of any creativity, kids can’t even find the humor in it. The bit is funny when you’re telling it to an adult audience who lived through all of their childhood Halloweens and can now appreciate the jokes in retrospect. But when you’re talking about the Superman costume that fits more like pajamas than a superhero outfit and the cheap rubber band stapled to the back of the mask, it’s just going to go over kids’ heads. They don’t yet realize how cheap and silly the costumes are; to them, it’s all still pretty cool. It seems pretty logical to me—Seinfeld does stand-up for an adult audience, so what makes him think he can use the same jokes and get the same reaction from kids?
Maybe he’s trying to broaden his demographic and the book was just the first step. Soon he’ll be playing day care centers across the country. “So, what’s the deal with naptime?”
That said, I think people should stick to the classics when it comes to children’s books and take the celebrity-authored ones with a grain of salt.