‘You Have to F**king Eat’: Brash Trash?

Are you frantically trying to purchase all those holiday gifts you need? Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other holidays are approaching rapidly! Would someone on your gift list appreciate a colorful, energetic picture book with the intriguing title, You Have to F**king Eat?

Cover of book
Cover of book

Adam Mansbach’s latest snarky, rhyming book has been recently published by Akashic Books of Brooklyn, New York. It follows up on the frustrated parenting themes of his book, Go the F**k to Sleep, a surprise hit. Akashic is currently featuring this new title smack-dab in the middle of its website’s home page.

The book is full of illustrations of cute, multicultural, but sulky boys and girls, surrounded by pretty animals and nature scenes. The rhyming text on every other page, featuring four-line stanzas “spoken” by angry, fed-up and potty-mouthed adults, is pretty funny.

Here is an excerpt:

“The sunrise is golden and lovely
The birds chirp and twitter and tweet,
You woke me and asked for some breakfast,
So why the f**k won’t you eat?”

You Have to F**king Eat is positioned as the anti-good-parenting manual, a rant-filled take on the gentle lullabies people read to their children. It is garnering coverage from sources such as Time Out (which informs us that actor Bryan Cranston is narrating the audiobook).

Note that this book is intended for adults to read, although older children may sneak a peek and shriek with laughter.

But is this a truly funny book, worthy of forking over your hard-earned cash? I read it in about ten minutes and while I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t actually buy it and read it over and over again. Truth is, I saw it on a shelf in my local library (thanks, Kings Highway Brooklyn Public Library!) and borrowed it. Chalk it up to an impulse borrow. I will show it to my husband and mention it to friends. My daughters, in ninth grade and seventh grade, grabbed the book from me and read it, giggling constantly as they did.

Other people might find it very offensive. Every four-line stanza has at least one curse word in it, and some include more. Woe betide the parents of early readers who get a hold of this book! In addition, it does not have quite the shock value of the first book, Go the F**k to Sleep. That one caught me off-guard. This one is funny, and many parents will feel a “been there, done that” kinship with the text. It offers good laughs, but is it a bleeping classic? It just might make a bleeping good gift, so consider it. Caveat emptor!

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ellen levitt bio pic photo

Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013). (And hopefully a book about NJ one day, if her publisher gives the green light.)

Ellen Levitt is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn (2009), The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens (2011) and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (2013), all published by Avotaynu. She is a lifelong New Yorker, a veteran public school teacher, writer and photographer. Bird lover as well.