Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Learning Colors With Strawberry Shortcake: A Critic's Review

After some heavier posts lately I thought I would post something a little lighter...and stupid, quite frankly.

This afternoon I picked up an old children's book that used to belong to my younger sister, but that now my nieces read.  It was a Strawberry Shortcake-themed book designed to help kids learn colors.  I was just thumbing through it as I have many times when I noticed an inconsistency that bothered the anal-retentive part of me a lot.

Although the book is designed primarily to teach kids colors, there is a "story": Strawberry Shortcake and her friends are taking a walk when they encounter all these different colors, and they comment on them.

At the beginning of the story, we see Strawberry Shortcake, Apple Dumpling, Plum Puddin', and Huckleberry Pie starting on this walk.  Strawberry Shortcake's cat, Custard, and Huckleberry Pie's pet dog, Pupcake, also went along for the walk  (Little piece of trivia: Pupcake originally belonged to Huckleberry Pie and looked like this:

but in later incarnations Pupcake became Strawberry Shortcake's dog and looked like this):

Apparently after Strawberry Shortcake stole and changed his dog, Huckleberry Pie got a new pet named Shoofly Frog.

In any case, these four friends and the cat and dog go on their adventure and teach kids colors at the same time.

"Let's go for a walk and learn about colors, " Strawberry Shortcake says to her compadres.  They walk by some red stuff.  Strawberry Shortcake comments that the strawberries are red.  They see some yellow corn (Plum Puddin' makes a comment) and some green items like a hose, a bench, and some lettuce (Strawberry Shortcake talks about those).  Then they march past some purple grapes and flowers, which Plum Puddin' notices.  Next, they see some brown dirt and a basket and some bread and peanut butter (Strawberry Shortcake comments on those).  Then they pass by some orange carrots and pumpkins, and Raspberry Tart mentions those.  (What the hell?  Where did Raspberry Tart come from?) 

The weird inconsistency is that Raspberry Tart, whose name, incidentally, was later changed to Raspberry Torte, shows up for just this one page of the story.  She wasn't with the gang at the beginning of the story nor is she with them at the end.  She just shows up for this one page and says what she has to say, and then we never hear from her again.  I just thought it odd.

After Raspberry Tart's mysterious entrance and exit, the gang passes by some blue stuff such as a watering can and a sprinkler.  Blueberry Muffin freaks out (Now where did she come from?  She also is nowhere to be found in this book until this page, but she, unlike Raspberry Tart, at least sticks around for pretty much the rest of the book).

Next the gang happens by some pink things like roses and the inside of a watermelon and a parasol and some strawberry ice cream that Strawberry Shortcake now magically has (where did she get it, I want to know).  Then Strawberry Shortcake comments on the white daisies, and we see some white clouds.  (What we don't see are Apple Dumpling and Pupcake and, of course, Raspberry Tart, who have mysteriously vanished).  Strawberry Shortcake also makes a feeble attempt at making another reference to white by saying that the meadow they're in is covered with snow in the winter (well, it ain't now, girlfriend, so methinks you're stretching things a bit).

 And now we're at the end of the book looking at several of the different-colored things like a yellow sunflower, white daisies, a green hose, red strawberries, an orange carrot, the blue sprinkler Blueberry Muffin was freaking out about, some purple flowers, and a pink parasol.  Only now it's just Strawberry Shortcake, Apple Dumpling, and Pupcake and Custard that remain.  All of Strawberry Shortcake's other friends (Plum Puddin', Blueberry Muffin, Huckleberry Pie, and the elusive Raspberry Tart) have all disappeared.  I can only assume the Purple Pie Man got them.

This book may be good at teaching colors, but the narrative is very inconsistent and the characters are all over the place (literally).

As I was making fun of the book, I remembered when Strawberry Shortcake was in her heyday in the 80s.  My younger sister was quite a fan.  I thought the characters were very girly and old fashioned.  The only one who interested me at all was the Purple Pie Man, probably because he was out to destroy Strawberry Shortcake and her friends (and I just found out today he had a cohort named Sour Grapes).

I remembered vaguely the tune sung in the old 80s commercials, but only the first phrase (which was "Strawberry Shortcake...").  I soon found out why I couldn't remember any more of the song.  It's because the rest of the lyrics changed depending on the commercial.  For example, one would say, "Strawberry Shortcake / in her floppy hat" and another would say, "Strawberry Shortcake / with her freckled nose", or "Strawberry Shortcake / Berry Happy Home", etc.

My older sister told me the Strawberry Shortcake gang has been updated.  Whereas in the 80s they were kind of an old fashioned, Holly Hobbie 80s legwarmers sort of look:

now they're supposedly hip and mod:

Look, Huckleberry Pie even skateboards now.  So hip!

As my sister said, "Now she wears pants."  I guess women's lib has caught up with old Strawberry.  She's a happening chick now.

On a completely unrelated note, I've noticed they've modernized Sesame Street, too.  I don't like it.  It seem too chaotic, frenetic, and computer-generated now.  I'll take old-fashioned Sesame Street any day.  Since I was never into Strawberry Shortcake at all, she can do whatever the heck she likes.


LCannon said...

you are so funny; fortunately our nieces and sister are learning colors and not looking at the story Mr. Over Critical. LOL

Trev said...

I've not seen Sesame Street in a while, but wasn't the _old_ one "chaotic, frenetic, and"--not computer animated--but very... what, the same kind of style I think you're getting at here, weird and sometimes dreamlike? That's how I remember it. Short skits interspersed with sometimes really weird and out-of-left-field animated sequences.

Daisy Flower said...

Really? Took 17 paragraphs to write about this? Stupid is right.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, LCannon.

Trev, I don't know, Sesame Street just seems more frenetic and "ADD" than it did back in the 70s.

Hey, Daisy, I warned you up front. No one forced you to read the 17 paragraphs. And I find it hilarious that you actually took the time to count the number of paragraphs.

Dean Scott said...

I think it is the most intelligent post I've read today. It sounds like a book editor found some fermented apple cider before editing this book.

I was a "Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse" and "Dudley Doright" child.

James said...

I bet all of Strawberry Shortcake's friends ditched her and went off to hang out with Raspberry Tart. I hear she's a real slut. lol

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Dean. Glad somebody liked it besides my sister.

I agree, the author was probably drunk.

I never saw "Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse" (although I have heard the theme song), but I did watch Dudley Doright,Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fractured Fairytales, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman in repeats. I actually do a pretty good Dudley Doright impression.

Gay LDS Actor said...

You may be right, James. They don't call her Tart for nothing. lol

LCannon said...

Just read this to Jenna. She laughed the entire time. She never heard of Purple Pie Man or Sour Grapes. The entire concept was/is very foreign to her. She thinks it still has villans though ????