In “Humour and the body in children’s literature” Roderick McGills writes about the “the ‘joyful’ deaths of young children.” (259) as well as how stories told to children were written with “short factual narratives… showing heroism of small children in the face of a reaper less grim than welcome.” (259). Instead of choosing one of the text that McGills’ reference I’ve decided to look at something more recent. The short story collection Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies, by author David Lubar, is one in a long series of children’s and middle grade books. The stories within the pages uses tales of children being attacked by garbage monsters, or parents not celebrating their child’s birthday because of the end of the world, as a method to address real problems.
The titular story is a tale in which the main character, Amanda, is the only one without a cellular phone as she watches her classmates click and tap their way through class without noticing the outside world. Even the teacher has their phone out, ignoring the class of “texters, surfers, and gamers.” (116) What this story does is that it uses the way people stare at their cell phones, tablets, and any other electronic device without acknowledging their surroundings. Amanda says in the story that, “The world had turned into Wireless Weenies, sucking gigabytes of data out if the air.” (116). McGills writes that comedy “serves to remind us just how important the body is to the human condition.” While the story isn’t comedic in the sense it does show the importance of the body, or in the case of the wireless weenies, the mind. Everyone is engrossed in their devices to understand the world around them, their minds aren’t one with their body and they don’t have the ability to listen to reason.
While the story is short, the point comes in the form of a squid monster that has appeared next to the school, and while the lead character attempts to alert people of the crisis they all ignore Amanda in favor of posting about the monster on social media. The children fall to their deaths, are taken by the monster, their teacher wants to abandon them in favor of saving themselves. McGills says “it will be sufficient for me to point out that much humour for young readers finds expression in satire and parody.” The parody within the story is that it is using real people and the need to record a moment, to not pay attention to the severity of a situation instead going forth towards danger, once again going towards “the ‘joyful’ death.”
Lubar’s series of stories often uses real life situations to show how scary the world is but some stories are sound far-fetched until it’s read between the lines. This particular story shows the dangers of not truly paying attention to what is happening around you, and it could have a negative effect on your life. It may sound funny but sometimes what one person thinks is funny really isn’t the same for another.