Leave it to the Brits to deliver a children's book about a sperm cell, and to call it "Where Willy Went." As the story goes:

Rosy-cheeked Willy is determined to be the first to reach the "lovely and soft" interior of an egg, located in the murkily mapped recesses of Mrs. Browne's abdomen.


Worldly older siblings and adults are likely to be Allan's most responsive audience, but many under-five readers may still enjoy the sojourn to a world of endearing, exotic tadpole creatures.

Excuse me? Yes, question from the back row. Hi. Just wondering: If you believe that children under five would enjoy a sojourn to a world of exotic tadpole creatures, why not create a picture book for them like "Timmy Tadpole Under the Sea," instead of offering them a story that takes place in Mrs. Browne's murkily mapped recesses?


The Wall Street Journal article on this study is worth reading, if only because of highlights like this:

monkeys would gaze as long as they could at female hindquarters. . . .

The research has “taken the issue of your wanting to be—or be with—an important monkey, and shown it seems to obey the same rules about monkeys working for juice or humans working for money.”

The gist of the study is that monkeys were found to be willing to give up (or pay) a portion of their treats (such as juice) in exchange for glimpses of attractive opposite-sex simians or dominant alpha apes. Researchers believed that the willingness of monkeys to pay for the privilege of imagining themselves in the company of powerful or sexy peers was akin to humans shelling out $2 or $3 for celebrity gossip or fashion magazines.

All primates living in complex societies have evolved this drive to study what’s around them, Dr. Glimcher explained. “People are willing to pay money to look at pictures of high-ranking human primates. When you fork out $3” for a celebrity gossip magazine, “you’re doing exactly what the monkeys are doing. “The difference between Michael’s study and People magazine,” he said, “is that the monkeys actually know the individuals in the picture.”

Well, that may be true. But we find it fascinating that this is exactly the same dynamic we sometimes see at breakfast time. When Small Fellow has a hard time waking up for school, we sometimes allow him to sit for a spell in front of "Sesame Street." The problem is that it's difficult to then get him to turn his eyes away from Ernie, Elmo, or the Count and eat his breakfast. And when Fellow and Tiny Girl happen to eat in a room where the TV is on, they simply can't make themselves turn away from the characters on screen to bring their spoons to their mouths. We plan to run some follow-up tests involving Small Fellow, a bowl of oatmeal, and some images of female orangutan hindquarters. Watch this space for the results.


February 25, 2005 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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