Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, September 29, 2004
You've got to see it from the kids' point of view, according to children's author Andy Griffiths. "You mention a willy and everyone goes silly."

Griffiths is offended that schools and libraries are refraining from buying his latest bum book for kids, The Bad Book.
The Bad Book, which features a rhyme about a boy who sets fire to a cat, his bum and his head has so far prompted two Melbourne schools, a Sydney bookstore and an educational supplier to refuse to stock the book.
Griffiths would prefer these wowsers to leave him alone with the kids.
"Adults are making decisions based on an adult view of the world and about the suitability of the stories without understanding what the stories are, how they work, and what they are trying to achieve," he said.

"I'm happy to explain the humour in the book but sometimes you wish people would maybe just lighten up a bit."

Griffiths is just one of that generation of authors who exploit the fact that young kids think the B word is very, very funny. Another is Morris Gleitzman, author of Bumface, who has made a good living from stories full of childish naughtiness and risible parents.

You can also, like Paul Jennings, make good sales from infantile anxiety in the catastrophism genre.

Griffiths has taken his genre into territory where teachers and librarians are reluctant to follow. How can liberal adults justify their intolerance of the author's freedom to write whatever the kids will read?

Unfortunately tolerance alone doesn't provide the basis for limiting itself.