A Children's Book About Beer?
Yes, believe it or not--but B Is for Beer is also a book for adults, and bear in mind that it's the work of maverick bestselling novelist Tom Robbins, internationally known for his ability to both seriously illuminate and comically entertain.
Once upon a time (right about now) there was a planet (how about this one?) whose inhabitants consumed thirty-six billion gallons of beer each year (it's a fact, you can Google it). Among those affected, each in his or her own way, by all the bubbles, burps, and foam, was a smart, wide-eyed, adventurous kindergartner named Gracie; her distracted mommy; her insensitive dad; her non-conformist uncle; and a magical, butt-kicking intruder from a world within our world.
Populated by the aforementioned characters--and as charming as it may be subversive--B Is for Beer involves readers, young and old, in a surprising, far-reaching investigation into the limits of reality, the transformative powers of children, and, of course, the ultimate meaning of a tall, cold brewski.
Questions for Tom Robbins
Q: So, Tom Robbins, you’ve gone and written a children’s book about an alcoholic beverage. First, why the ode to beer?
A: Why not? As ode fodder, its got to have at least as much potential as nightingales and Grecian urns.
Beer is so universally beloved that 36 billion gallons of it are sold each year worldwide. Moreover, it’s been popular for thousands of years, with origins dating back to ancient Egypt and Sumer. It has deep connections to the earth -- and possibly to outer space, as well (I explain this in the book). Bittersweet, like much of life itself, it’s exceptionally thirst-quenching and enormously refreshing; it’s cheerful, accessible, affordable, lovely in color, and somewhat nourishing, being one of our few neutral foods: perfectly balanced between acidic and alkaline, between yin and yang. Best of all perhaps, beer makes us tipsy. What’s not to ode?
Q: Okay, but what’s the angle with children?
A: Children see beer commercials every time they watch a sporting event on TV. In the supermarket, they pass shelves and coolers overflowing with the stuff. Neon beer signs wink at them as they’re driven to school, to church or the mall. And, if their own parents and older siblings aren’t enjoying beer, then the parents and siblings of their friends surely are.
Kids are constantly exposed to beer, it’s everywhere; yet, aside from wagging a warning finger and growling -- true enough as far as it goes -- “Beer is for grownups,” how many parents actually engage their youngsters on the subject? As a topic for detailed family discussion, it’s generally as taboo as sex.
It’s a kind of largely unpremeditated side-stepping, and part of the reason is that most parents are themselves uninformed. Even if mommy and daddy have more than a clue about beer’s ingredients and how it’s brewed, they know nothing of its history, let alone the rich psychological, philosophical, and mythic associations bubbling beneath the surface of its wide appeal.
Q: So, children need to know the “meaning” of beer?
A: Well, at the very least they need a clearer understanding of why their dad keeps a second refrigerator in the garage, and why he stays up late out there on school nights with his shirt off, listening to Aerosmith.
Q: Of course. How would you compare B Is for Beer to your previous nine books of fiction?
A: At 126 pages, it’s shorter. It’s illustrated. And it’s less complex, although considerably more complicated than Poopie the Pukey Puppy.
Q: What will you possibly do for an encore?
A: Not my problem. I’ve decided to take advantage of outsourcing. My next novel will be written by a couple of guys in Bangalore.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.