Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon
Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With the Spoon review, short version: If you have children, know children, or were ever a child yourself, you need this new coloring book by Jacinta Bunnell and Nathaniel Kusinitz.
Long version: As a child of the Free to Be...You and Me seventies, dressed androgynously by a pair of liberal-minded parents, I never dreamed that I would have difficulty recreating a gender-neutral environment for my first child, born at the turn of the new millennium. What I didn't know was that there was a counter-revolution afoot, and it believed that infants should only wear onesies of blue or pink. Despite great social and legal victories made for GLBTQ civil rights since I was a kid, gender nonconformity remains a huge threat to the status quo—and while grown-ups can get away with picking and choosing their participation in the Gender Games (I have not worn makeup in almost twenty years), the battle lines for children remain fixed. I daresay they've hardened, no thanks to the complete Disney Princessification of childhood culture, as any walk through the kids' aisles at Target will tell you.
What's a parent to do? Why, pick up a copy of Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With the Spoon, of course! While the title might lead a parent to believe that this is merely a gay re-imagining of old Mother Goose rhymes, the real theme of the book is freedom. A furry, sharp-toothed beast with accessorizes with sparkly gems that Paris Hilton might envy. A “breadwinner in the family” is a man who's the proud winner of a baking contest. A mermaid decides “I am making my way out of this fairy tale and starting a new life with two strong legs and a voice.”
In my favorite picture, an adorable kid in a dinosaur t-shirt holds a to-do list that reads: “1. plant garden 2. fix carburetor in truck 3. start presidential campaign 4. end war.” If either of my children presented such a list to me, I could quite happily drop dead on the spot, knowing that my life's purpose was fulfilled! Really.
My only complaint with the book is its price. I realize that this is an important, educational project from a morally noble, independent publisher, but come on—there is no parent in earth, radical or otherwise, who is going to lay down ten bucks for a coloring book. Coloring books get scribbled on, ripped up, scrunched into backpacks and quickly destroyed. I want to pay three bucks for it, tops. I may be a sellout for suggesting this, but I wouldn't mind if the Human Rights Campaign got behind Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away With the Spoon and lent its considerable financial and political power to making copies available in libraries and classrooms. Every kid deserves to meet this great group of gender-fluid friends and to color outside of these pages' lines.