Despite its appallingly insipid title, I gave it the benefit of a hair-thin doubt and decided to read it to daughter Hannah as a bedtime story. I had read no more than a couple of pages when I, mentally boggled with numbing disbelief, broke into hysterical laughter. Here's how the 'story' (I use the term loosely) begins:
One day, Cheer Bear decided to hold a Care-a-lot caring contest. "A prize will go to the bear who shows the best way to care," she said.But wait! It gets better.
The Care Bears took the contest very seriously. Friend Bear was the first to see a way to care. "I think caring means taking turns with a favorite toy," she said.
Share Bear cared by making sure she had enough treats for everyone. "Help yourself!" she said as she passed out yummy rainbow bars.And so the little book of fluff, cotton candy, gummy bears and peeps continued to unfold among Care Bears with poofy names like 'Friend Bear', 'Tenderheart Bear', 'Funshine Bear', 'Love-a-lot Bear', 'Bedtime Bear', until it had me writhing on the floor, nearly asphyxiated by all this collective furry ursine care, my daughter staring goggle-eyed at the spectacle of her father reduced to paroxysms of laughter.
When Wish Bear wanted a push on her swing, Good Luck Bear was there. "Lucky you stopped by!" said Wish Bear. "Caring is helping when you're needed," Good Luck Bear replied.
But wait! Don't you want to know which Care Bear won the Caring Contest??? Cheer Bear thought all the Care Bears had done a "wonderful job of caring." But the million dollar question was: Who should she pick as winner of the contest? Surely you can guess!
Cheer Bear made her annoucement: "The winners of the Care-a-lot caring contest are ... all of you! Because everyone wins when everyone cares for others!" Then she proudly handed out the prizes.Okay, folks. Here's the deal. Clearly 'caring' is a virtue. Nancy Parent, the author of this book, apparently intends to inculcate something positive here -- the virtue of 'caring'. Surely there's nothing wrong with the intention. The question, however, is: What's wrong with this book? What's wrong with the way it endeavors to convey the virtue of caring, which might be related to what makes it so insanely funny? What does it tell us about our culture and how it understands a virtue like caring?
"Now we can show how much we care by sharing these prizes with our friends!" all the Care Bears said together. And that's just what they did.
Three cheers for caring, Care Bears!