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Scarry’s world is definitely not a twenty-first century one

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In What Do People Do All Day one mom gets a dress for keeping a clean house, another was given earrings. The dress receiver then starts a fire when she is ironing her husband’s shirt; she doesn’t get anything that evening. This book definitely doesn’t represent the time period and culture I live in: mothers and fathers sleep in single beds, with a nightstand between them.

Another example of how it reflects its era: when someone tells you trees are important, what do you think of? When I think of trees I think of forests. Maybe it’s because I’m from Massachusetts and live in Berkeley, but  if someone starts a sentence “Trees are important” I would mentally finish it “for the environment” and picture someone on the street asking me for money, for the rain forests (this happens really frequently in Berkeley, although sometimes it isn’t for a forest but for a local, significant tree). I don’t think “Trees are important for making wood” and when I think of 100 year old trees, I definitely don’t think “Ah, good, old enough to chop down!” which is actually written in this book (“This tree is 100 years old, it is ready to get cut down”  — the book is large and I wasn’t able to scan the whole page).

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  1. Pingback: Scarry’s World is Full of Little Lessons | Children's books

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