Like most children I spent my younger years coloring outside the lines, but unlike other kids I never stopped. Just last week I sat in my dorm room with a box of crayons and a picture of my boy Buzz Lightyear and got to work. I consider myself to be a bit of a coloring book expert so when I heard about a new coloring book that features pictures of terrorists, I was legitimately horrified for my young peers in the coloring book community.
The cover of the book features the words, “Truthful, Factual, Honorable, Indifferent to Political Correctness.” The first three may be well and good, but the last phrase should have made someone at the publishing company scratch their head and say, “Maybe we shouldn’t publish this.”
But because no one did that, we have a book full of pictures that no child should color. Ranging from terrorist leaders like Saddam Hussein to the buildings that were hit on 9/11, there are a wide variety of ways to scar a child in this book. Some parents may buy this book with the intention of teaching their children about history, but just one wrong turn and your child ends up in therapy with nightmares about planes crashing into their bedrooms and their favorite stuffed animals being lynched.
The fun does not end with coloring pages. The book also includes trading cards! These are not Pokemon-style cards that are part of some game that no one knows how to play; these are collectible informative cards. Not only do they feature the terrorists responsible for 9/11, but also contributors like Timothy McVeigh (the Oklahoma City bomber) and Jared Loughner (the man who shot Rep. Gabrielle Giffords).
If I was a parent, which I am not, I would not want my child trying to catch all of these trading cards. I would be worried that they would be using the stats on the back to plan some sort of horrible attack, be it pretend or real.
Now that is not to say that the publishers are trying to get young children to purchase this book. Actually quite the opposite; the book features a PG-13 logo on the front to discourage younger coloring fans. I, however, have never been carded while buying a coloring book, so as noble as this action is, it will not actually stop anyone.
The table of contents page encourages young readers to share the book with friends and family but also to ask their parents before taking the book to school. If parents buy their child a coloring book like this, what would stop them from letting their child take it to school? I can already see the scene that would be caused by taking this book to a lower grade classroom. Little girls crying and little boys pretending to be crashing planes while the teacher pulls out their hair trying to get the class back in order.
Now if this book is widely available to children, that means there is no stopping them from getting attached to it and carrying it over into other areas of play. Instead of kids playing princesses or cowboys, parents are going to see their children pretending to be terrorists and mass murderers.
I’m sure that originally the intentions of this book were good, but somewhere along the way everything went horribly wrong. Even the story is bad — that is, if you could call it a story. The book features a letter from Rep. Michele Bachmann to the head of Homeland Security. Sarah Palin must have been busy so they settled for the next worst thing.
The target audience of most coloring books is children, but I cannot see any of them wanting to color in this one. As an adult color-er, I can also say that I have no desire to fill in pictures of terrorists either. I am truly perplexed by whose money the publishers were trying to get with this book. Unless of course they wanted people to buy the book in bulk to burn, in which case I will be getting a couple of cases for a bonfire.
Zach Foley is a freshman in secondary education. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.