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Bartosh

Rodman decides to do the write thing

(Reprinted from Feb. 7, 2013)

  Hey, Dr. Seuss, guess what? You have company.
  Children’s books are an important component of the literary world. While they may seem trite to adults, we’re no longer looking at them through innocent eyes or with an untainted conscience.
  Of course, many of us would probably benefit from a rereading. Based on the public actions I witness from a fair amount of folks these days, long forgotten are basic niceties such as politeness, honesty, sharing and showing consideration for others.
  And if a barnyard animal or talking piece of machinery happens to be the one instructing us in print, the message is no less important. Maybe they’ll succeed where Dr. Phil has failed.
  There is a knack, though, to composing a book that is designed to attract a very young audience. Heavy-handedness won’t work, and the morality tale must be presented in a simple, yet effective manner.

  Oh, and all smart aleck-ness must be curbed.
  That last part is probably the toughest for most writers to follow. As a rule, we’re tempted to poke fun at things that seem silly, but unless they desire to influence the next generation of Lindsay Lohan clones, children’s-book authors will refrain from mining the cheap laugh.
  So, as you can see, only certain individuals are cut out to create kids’ books. We must be careful about who is granted access to little ones’ minds and allowed to influence them.
  The aforementioned Dr, Seuss was long ago given a thumbs-up, although the bizarre wordplay found in his books might lead one to believe his own mind was somewhere other than the real world — around Jupiter perhaps, or Haight-Ashbury, circa 1967. Nevertheless, kids have been exposed to him for years without negative repercussions other than a strong desire to incorporate “gox,” “zans” and “wump” into their everyday speech.
  Speaking of exposure, that brings us to Dennis Rodman.
  Rodman, you say? We thought you were talking about children’s authors, though goodness knows why a sports columnist would be doing so. That’s exactly why — Dennis Rodman has joined that particular literary circle.
  His qualifications as an author certainly are open to debate, especially when the subject matter he covered in the epic “Bad As I Wanna Be” made adults blush. And childish antics shouldn’t be considered an adequate resume-filler for being a storyteller to tots, either.
  Those of us old enough to remember Rodman’s two greatest gifts — an ability to rebound a basketball and to self-promote — might find it difficult to fathom that he is most likely a nonentity to the younger generation.
  Remember, though, today’s youths tend to view history as something that occurred last November, so unless they stumbled upon some old NBA footage or “TMZ” happened to ridicule one of his cinematic efforts, Rodman rates as a nobody. But while he has receded into the background, Rodman never completely disappears.
  And his latest reappearance comes complete with a little thing called “Dennis The Wild Bull,” which surprisingly does not chronicle his days with Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson. No, “Dennis The Wild Bull” — which, in case you were already making purchase plans, is only available on Amazon.com via an unaffiliated seller — is about a lower-case-“B” bull who is taken away from his family and forced to live with other bulls in a rodeo.
  Dennis, like the human writer who shares his name, swims a bit upstream from the other creatures around him. While some bulls may have one ring through their nose, Dennis has two, which is actually easy to overlook given the fact that he also has flowing red hair, a tattoo and red stubble under his chin.
  There is no evidence that Dennis the bull has a wedding gown or feather boas secretly stashed away for those special evenings spent on the farm.
  Interestingly, though, Dennis the author might have stumbled onto something decent. The point of the story is that Dennis the bull, despite his differences, winds up being accepted by those around him and everyone becomes friends.
  While Rodman and co-author Dustin Warburton obviously pattern the book’s character after Rodman, the tale’s payoff would work under any circumstances. So instead of just promoting tolerance toward an outlandish character, maybe “Dennis The Wild Bull” will get kids — and, just as importantly, their parents — to dig below the surface whenever they encounter anyone who doesn’t quite fit the standard definition of “normal.”
  That could mean someone confined to a wheelchair or having some sort of physical disfigurement, a person dealing with developmental issues, or simply an individual of different ethnicity or religious background. Accepting people like that and treating them as equals would seem an easy-to-enact behavior, but it’s proved too difficult a concept for a great number of people to grasp.
  So as amazed as I am to be admitting this, perhaps Dennis Rodman as children’s-book author isn’t as far-fetched an idea as I initially thought. I just hope that the new, insightful Dennis doesn’t get mixed up with the old, let-me-kick-a-courtside-photographer-in-the-groin Dennis because I fear the latter might become a bad influence.
  And the next thing you know, Rodman will be doing a book tour in the nude.