An Open Letter to Dan Gutman

Dan. Dan dan dan dan dan dan. DAN. According to the internet, you are a children’s book author, e-book writer, classroom visitor, and based on the insane photos you’ve chosen to post of yourself, a big fan of forced goofiness.

My five year old’s grandmother lovingly bought him some of your My Weird School series, specifically Mrs. Dole Is Out of Control. She lovingly read him the first six chapters. I was up in his room helping him get dressed for the day when he asked me to read him the next chapter.

DOLE

One page in, I come across this gem:

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What the ever-loving hell, Dan? The way GIRLS do? Yes, Dan. Only girls get sniffly. Okay. One archaic gender stereotype, I’ll let go. Even the best writer can have a clunker every now and again.

Then, two pages later:

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ZING! You got ‘em, Dan. That’s a real knee slapper. Gowns are for GIRLS. I’m assuming that covers all gowns? Ball gowns? Night gowns? Hospital gowns? In your world, Dan, do men wear football uniforms with full pads when they go see their doctor?

HUGH

Someone needs to tell Hef that gowns are for girls, cause he’s rocking the hell out of that dressing gown.

At this point, I’m like, this can’t get worse, right Dan? I mean, do you blame me for thinking that? A published writer, someone who has access to the minds of young children, surely a person such as that wouldn’t have a book positively riddled with dangerous, outdated, and LAZY gender stereotypes? Could they?

Oh yes. They could. They being you, Dan Gutman.

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Yes. Let’s slap the hysterical woman who fainted. That’s not a tired old tv trope or anything. Dan. That’s the funniest thing you could come up with? What about dumping cold water on her? Kids LOVE to dump water on things! That’s something that would fit both the story AND your target demographic. But no. Let’s encourage 2nd grade boys to slap their adult female teacher. Good job, Dan.

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Yes. Punch him the nose. That is FOR SURE what guys in movies do when they catch their wives locked in the embrace of another man. Dan, why not have him say, “Murder him with a snow globe, wrap him a carpet, and bury him a landfill! That’s what guys do in the movies when they catch someone kissing their wife!” Or better yet, skip that whole part all together! I understand you were trying to appeal to the (again, antiquated notion) that boys think kissing is icky and therefore they would find this funny, but you did it so badly. So, so badly.

Dan, if you, like me, thought that there couldn’t possibly be more, you, like me, would be wrong.

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Yes. Girls are big, walking glitter bombs just waiting to explode at the first mention of a zygote.

I decided, Dan, that it was my civic duty to start from the beginning and log the rest of your idiotic, idle characterizations, like this:

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Yes. Let’s teach young, impressionable children that everyone that gets married becomes a Mrs. That’s not an idea from 1950 or anything. Way to set back the movement, Dan. We can’t count on you for anything. Except sweet, sweet stereotypes:

ANDREA

OMG. Girls are annoying. That’s so hilarious I just peed my ruffled panties. Yes. Girls just sit around and talk about dolls and dresses. Dan. And boys do all that boy stuff. Just a bunch of best friends boys doing best friend boy things. This is EXACTLY what little children need taught. My blood pressure is starting to get a little beyond what I feel comfortable with, Dan.

SNIFFLEY

You got us again, Dan! It’s like you have a window into our souls. We just cry, cry, cry, then we talk annoyingly about dresses, then we hear someone is having a baby, then we explode. Nailed it.

I couldn’t help but notice your use of ‘Nobody knows why’, in what I’m assuming is meant to be a comedic manner. The only thing nobody knows why, Dan, is why you’re still allowed to write children’s books.

Beyond these quotes , and this is just this ONE book, you’ve also created Andrea, the eye-rolling prim and proper prissy pants; Mrs. Dole, the emasculating mother; Mrs. Daisy, the fat pregnant woman; AND you managed to get two women into a fight and PULL EACH OTHER’S HAIR. In a children’s book. Congrats, Dan. That’s like the bad stereotype trifecta, topped with an EYEBALL THAT FELL OUT OF MY HEAD FROM EXTREME ROLLING.

In closing, Dan, I’m going to ask you to think before you write. You’re either not doing this on purpose and have been hitherto unaware of the casually dropped, damaging references in your books for small children, or you’re an MRA plant.

But now you know, Dan. Please stop writing lazy caricatures that reinforce ridiculous gender stereotypes. It’s lazy, crap writing. Do better, Dan.  As long as there are people inexplicably reading what you write, do better.

Yours in anger,

Bethany

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