Scathing Book Reviews of Walter the Farting Dog, by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray, Illustrated by Audrey Colman

It’s hard for me to believe that a book named Walter the Farting Dog required two authors, particularly when, according to book reviewers, the setup and plotline seem identical to Dogbreath by Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame. As for myself, I can’t believe that a book named “Walter the Farting Dog” would’ve been allowed in bookstores even as recently as the 1990s, much less the 70s back when I was a kid.

Although, perhaps there was a “farting” subtext that I didn’t recognize in my favorite children’s books. Could it be that Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel couldn’t get work was because of Mike’s tragic flatulence problems? Did the Ingalls Family keep moving because Ma and Pa had a fondness for beans that made them social pariahs? Regardless, the reviewers who left these Scathing Book Reviews of Walter the Farting Dog think the book stinks:

Unbelievable! SHAME to the publisher for actually marketing such a book! SHAME to the author who penned it! SHAME to the illustrator who drew it! And most of all, SHAME to the PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS etc. . . who actually purchased it! A waste of good timber!

…and the requisite mourning of American standards:

Ah, yes — the coarsening of American society continues. There was a time not so long ago when children were actually discouraged from engaging in potty humor because it was believed — how silly can you get? — that the goal was to raise mature people with a sense of class. Now, we’re told we should make poopie jokes with our kids and laugh right along.. . . just one more step in the process of creating a generation of low-class idiots.

…and:

To choose to encourage children to laugh at flatulence is unbelievable. My kids laugh enough at it that I feel no need to spend money to make it even funnier to them.

…and:

Yes, it’s true that kids find farts funny, but I don’t see why we should encourage rudeness and inconsideration unstead of teaching children control and respect for others. When your kid farts at the table, do you laugh and say “aw, how cute”, or do you have him/her apologize? Seems to me like all the people who love this book probably do the former.

…and I hope this review doesn’t refer that “that” F word:

What a treat–not. The author succeeds in getting cheap laughs by repeating the “F” word over and over, and by showing the mutt with clouds issuing from beneath his tail. Clever. Tacky. What was the motivation, I wonder? <shaking head>

…and:

Well, there are GOOD books and then there are BAD books. This one deserves the trash can. Pathetic and in very bad taste. Who cut the cheese, man ???

…and:

This book is a nightmare. Funny? No, please have adults sunk to this level and do they intend to teach children that this type of thing is acceptable? Oh, it’s just awful. 😦

Scathing Book Reviews of Eragon (Book 1 of the Inheritance Cycle), by Christopher Paolini

I remember when Eragon, by Christopher Paolini first gained media attention. It was back in 2003 when all things Harry Potter dominated the book publishing world and news, and the idea of yet another unknown author creating a breakout book just seemed made for the news cycle. Plus, the fact that Paolini was in his teens just added to the newsworthiness.

Things have died down since then, probably in no small part to the Eragon Moviethat was released, which was underwhelming to most, especially devout Eragon fans. Even so, Eragon has more than 2800 book reviews on Amazon as of August 2008. My days of fantasy reading are behind me now, but I can appreciate the enthusiasm behind “fannish” love for the Inheritance Cycle book series, and any book with a Dragon in it can get what’s left of my old 13 year old blood flowing. The readers who left these Scathing Book Reviews of Eragon, however, seem to wish that Bard of Dale was around with a well-strung arrow:

Arya is a beautiful elf princess that Eragon must rescue. Of course, he does. And everyone’s thinking “Oh, that had me on the edge of my seat!” Look, you can go play Super Mario Bros. and find the exact same idea: Mario rescuing Princess Peach. Link rescuing Princess Zelda. It IS possible, you know, to have a good book without a damsel in distress.

…and:

The prose is an unholy mish-mesh of melodramatic simple sentences… The story telling doesn’t involve characterization, so much as the descriptive details you might expect to find on a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet.

…and:

If someone had assembled a checklist of every fantasty cliche ever used in any work of fantasy ever written by anyone anywhere, it would’ve turned into this book.

…and:

Lordy – I couldn’t get past the first chapter.

…and:
Knowing nothing of the history of the book, I dived into my first copy and hit the bottom within the first chapter. Dumbstruck, I put the book down, wondering why anyone would have agreed to publish this dreck, which seemed to be the transcription of a rather boring gaming session with a lackluster dungeonmaster… In the end, I could bear no more. I placed both copies for sale on Amazon, sending one to a child in Alaska and the other to a reader in Portland. As for the child in Alaska, I suspect this will have been a welcome gift. To the reader in Portland, I am sorry.

…and:

Sure, the cover’s attractive, and sure, the author was a teenager when he wrote it — the book seems to have become a bestseller on those two factors alone, because it definitely wasn’t literary merit that’s caused it to sell so well.

…and:

I think I can honestly say this is one of the worst books I have ever read. If Paolini ever learns to stop manipulating his characters, come up with his own storylines, and cut out all annoying, irrelevent descriptive passages, he might become a decent writer.

…and:

Whatever editor green-lighted this book should never again work in the publishing industry.

…and:

Wow. I like pulp fantasy as much as the next die-hard fantasy lover (think Goodkind, Brooks, etc.). This book doesn’t even stand up to those admittedly mediocre books. It’s just bad. I can’t tell you how horribly dissapointed I was with this book. It was just…..bad.

…and the requisite mourning of American taste in reading:

Shame on the American public for having such poor taste in (fantasy) literature… This book is nothing more than modern hack writing at its worst.

Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach is like Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that is emblematic of the 1970s, but is still read today. Its one of those books that I’ve heard of but never read, and like many who lived in Chicago in the 80s and 90s, was continually reminded of due to the presence of Rich Melman’s restaurant “Jonathan Livingston Seafood“. There was also the Jonathan Livingston Seagull Movie which I came across on Cable some years ago.

I remember seeing an English Major reading the Book back in College, and its apparently assigned reading for Junior and Senior High Schoolers. If I ever do read it, hopefully it will answer the burning question “Why do Seagulls like Parking Lots?” These Scathing Book Reviews of Jonathan Livingston Seagull think that the Seagull is really a Dead Duck:

For a long time I had suspected that America was a nation full of pathetic people desperately striving to improve their lives. This so-called book has confirmed my suspicions.

…and:

This book is a piece of trash. I feel that nothing other than such a blunt remark justifies my feelings towards this mish-mash of bogey, high-faultin’ pretention and early 70s self-help gibberish. Clearly, this tripe hooked on to the swinging trend of cascading times when mid-life crisis was hitting people from 16 to 76.

…and:

I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions over the course of the book… Not because the author wrote something witty or clever – but because the book continued to reach new levels of stupidity.

…and:

To pad out this lame storyline, Bach gives us a bunch of grainy pictures of birds. Too bad he doesn’t have the guts to show us birds pooping on a statue, having found TRUE enlightenment.

…and:

The only good thing you can say about this book is that it is short, so it doesn’t waste as much time as it might.

…and:

In the miasma that was the 70’s lies this book, an embarassing reminder of the culture of self-actualization that permeated that era. Deep messages? Please… After being asked to write a paper on the meaning of the “Stairway to Heaven” lyric(!), having to read this book was the last straw for our 11th grade Language Arts class.

…and:

This is a simple story. So simple in fact that you wonder why the writer got paid for it.

…and:

A friend loaned me this book once when I was going through a very rough time in my life. Somehow, the book made me feel worse, so you may wish to hold off giving a copy to someone diagnosed with depression.

…and this review, excerpted at length. I’ll lay odds he’s an Ayn Rand enthusiast:

This slimy collection of self-important piety and nonsensical bilge is one of the most horrific encapsulations of what is rotten and bad in western society today. In it, a sentient air-rat decides he’s much too important to deal with small minded concerns ke making a seagull’s living eating fish. He decides he’s some kind of artist. He meets an asian air-rat who is of course much more wise and deep than his own whitebread air-rat self, and becomes some sort of super spiritual air-rat. Not content to jockey around the entire universe like some kind of air-rat version of Padre de Pio, he returns to earth to lord it over the other air rats with his superior spiritual pose.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Watership Down by Richard Adams will be an eye opener to those that have never had country neighbors that kept Rabbits. I will never forget going up to the cage in our neighbor’s yard to find not cute little baby bunnys but rather, a bunny version of the Silence of the Lambs. << Shudder >>. After that, I learned to watch my step around the guy playing the Easter Bunny at the mall. Also, Watership Down wasn’t the shock it could have been, and was an enjoyable read. But these reviewers would like to do to the book what my neighbor’s Rabbits did to their offspring:

…and:

I mean, who cares about a bunch of rabbits… All that happened, was rabbits did this and rabbits did that.

…and:

Who ever heard of talking and fighting rabbits anyway?

…and:

I was so angered at how the bunnues were after all just bunnies.

…and:

bunnies talk, walk, sleep, eat, and die. Wow…uh huh….that sounds fun. COME ON!!!!!

…and:

Watership Down is one of the worst books with animals as main characters I’ve ever read.

…and:

I tried reading this book. I got to page 3.

…and this review, which refers to perhaps the world’s most frequently read content on Rabbits:

Watership Downard Spiral: If this is a Watership then, for the love of Christ, somebody sink it. It should have been called “Watership Boring”, because that’s what this book is: BORING. I don’t get it. The plot’s too complicated and the rabbits are talking. Hello, author guy, can bunnies talk? NO. So unrealistic. And how am I supposed to relate to rabbits? Stupid, stupid, stupid is all that comes to mind. The only thing this book is good for is kindling. I’ve read better stories on the back of a TRIX box.

Scathing Book Reviews of Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Can you believe that Little House on the Prairie, the beloved television show, has been turned into a novel!?!

Just kidding, the beloved children’s books by Laura Ingalls Wilder has charmed millions, and for many, the versions featuring Garth Williams’ illustrations are definitive. Who wouldn’t like it? OK, Nellie Olsen, I grant you.  These Scathing Book Reviews of Little House on the Prairie make you want to root for the locusts:

I think this book was very borring because it explains things that arn’t very intresting. There was a whole chapter on how Pa built a chair! I don’t recamend it to any reader

…and:

This book was the worst book I ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had to read this book for school and it’s 507 pages of dull.

…and:

Reading the unendingly dull chapters about Pa building the house, the door, the fireplace and the well made me want to burn the log cabin down. And I still can’t believe that Ma ironed on the wagon in the middle of the prairie. (wtf?)

…and, apparently reading Harry Potter will ruin the Little House books. Be forewarned:

I recommend this book only to kids under the age of eight and kids who have not read the Harry Potter or Artemis Fowl series. For lovers of fantasy, mystery, magic or science-fiction, you must turn elsewhere for a good read.

Scathing Book Reviews of Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell is a classic that we’re all familiar with. OK, one that we’ve all heard of, anyway. No, its not the same as the movie The Black Stallion.

Imagine a Charles Dickens novel. Now insert a big Black Horse into the role usually played by a little boy.

Yes, THAT book. It’s a favorite of years past, and still appreciated by many, but unfortunately, these Scathing Book Reviews of Black Beauty think its all horse dung:

If somebody can tell me why this book is considered a classic I would love to know! The only thing it has that good novels have is pages!

…and:

This book is just plain boring… Black Beauty is just a little goodie-two-shoes.

…and this from a reader who asked around:

I have consulted several others and we all agree on one point: its a total waste of money, time, and effort. This book somehow managed to become a classic, proboble just because it has to do with horses.

..and some friendly advice from a student to the teachers of the world:

I dont know why this book is a classic. Trust me, it deserves a 1. For all those teachers out there, DONT BUY BLACK BEAUTY!!!

Scathing Book Reviews of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter, that plucky boy wizard, may have conquered the publishing world and the multiplex, but there are still a few reader’s hearts that he has yet to win over. Here are a few critical reviews of Harry Potter that “go all Voldermort” on J.K. Rowling’s first book:

Harry Potter books are written by an actual practicing witch to indoctrinate our youth. These books contain accurate depictions of ritual magic and satanic doctrines. Those who say it’s “just fiction” need a reality check!

and…

The characters are obviously derived from racism. I do not have a problem with this.

and…

In my opinion there are three options. Stay away from the Potter series. Buy the book and burn it. Or lastly read it and ponder suicide. Its that bad!

and…

The book just plays on that hackneyed boy-wizardmagical theme that’s been done time and time again.