YOU HAVE TO FUCKING EAT by Adam Mansbach

YOU HAVE TO FUCKING EAT

by ; illustrated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mansbach’s (Rage Is Back, 2013, etc.) second children’s book satire/foulmouthed balm for exhausted parents spotlights the agony of managing toddlers at mealtime.

Go the Fuck to Sleep, the 2011 surprise hit by the otherwise serious novelist, was a canny blend of Dr. Seuss’ patter and Irvine Welsh’s profanity, all the funnier for the oddness of its sweet-and-sour combination. The book became an international best-seller, and Mansbach is careful not to mess with success for the sequel. A new illustrator, Brozman, is on board, but the overall strategy remains the same: There’s a problem (picky eaters) introduced in a lilting pastoral lullaby (“The bunnies are munching on carrots…”) that is then undone at the end of each quatrain with some angry-dad sputtering (“The fucking meal’s served. Time to eat”). Every parent of a toddler endures a series of crises daily (cleaning up toys, going potty, picking out clothes), and this series is bound to be tediously repetitive should it continue. But Mansbach and Brozman do just enough here to entertainingly tweak the formula, particularly in terms of its art. Unlike Ricardo Cortés’ gentle, painterly illustrations for Sleep, Brozman’s are more overtly cartoonish and absurd, like a cheetah stoically tolerating a boy’s tableside slovenliness and a panda parent glumly pushing a shopping cart through a bamboo forest. Mansbach voices genuine frustration in a way that would be irresponsible in kid lit and unprofessional in parenting guides—it’s a joke that, like most good jokes, has a serious point behind it. The lines are sometimes rhythmically clumsy: “You’re not finished, and no, you can’t go to school / In pajamas, a hat, and bare feet.” A world of weary moms and dads deserves better scansion, but then nobody’s here for the poetry.

A likable variation on a universal fucking theme.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-61775-378-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Akashic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2014




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