December 5, 2013

Linus and Ann Coulter, perfect together? Peanuts signs with Regnery’s Little Patriot Press



In a blow to the forces of failure, ineradicable dirtiness, hopeless love, art-for-art’s sake, and Walter Mitty-esque fantasies everywhere, the Peanuts franchise has signed a deal with Regnery Publishing, Inc., otherwise known as the publishers of Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, Michelle Malkin, and Chuck Norris.

Regnery’s imprint, Little Patriot Press, which publishes books for children ages 5-8 years old, licensed the rights to use the Peanuts characters in a series of books about American history, civics, and, presumably, being a Little Patriot. It’s kicking it off in fall 2014 with three books about American inventors and explorers, to be followed by approximately nine more of these travesties.

The Little Patriot Press is a relatively new addition to the Regnery stable: it was founded three years ago, and up til now has been publishing books by the husband-and-wife writer-and-illustrator team of Peter and Cheryl Barnes. The Barneses got their start in children’s book publishing in the ‘90s (after running some Jenny Craig franchises into the ground) with a series of books about vacation sites (Nat, Nat, the Nantucket Cat, etc), but they hit a goldmine when they came up with a mice-and-Washington combination and sold over half a million in paperback editions through Scholastic. Their books featuring Woodrow G. Washingtail and other mice are currently the core of Little Patriot Press; the Peanuts deal is the house’s first license.

Little Patriot’s aims are clearly prophylactic — on their “About” page, they write:

Children today are exposed to current events and politics at increasingly earlier ages. That’s why Regnery Publishing launched Little Patriot Press…

And now it seems that the Peanuts characters have been enlisted in this patriotic venture. Regnery’s president and publisher Marji Ross pretty much spelled it all out in a press release announcing the deal:

“Who better than Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and the rest of the Peanuts gang to help teach children about what makes America strong, and the lessons we have learned over the past 250 years? We are delighted to be working with such a trusted and beloved brand… and look forward to publishing books that become great teaching tools—as well as family treasures.”

Which begs the question, has she ever read a Peanuts strip? While it’s possible — just possible — that Lucy van Pelt could be reclaimed by the right as an example of plucky individualism and tough love, there’s no redeeming the rest of those perpetual no-hopers.

Consider Snoopy: he is a dog with writerly ambitions who lives in a fantasy world and speaks French. Or Schroeder, with his single-minded devotion to Beethoven, his disdain for traditional marriage, and his knowledge of the works of Thomas Hardy.

And of course, Charlie Brown is the very embodiment of everything that has never made America strong and all the lessons we have never learned. With Charlie Brown at the helm, we would still be wandering around in the Massachusetts woods; our baseball teams would lose; our football teams would lose; all of our attempts at flight would have ended up in the Kite-Eating Tree; we’d be prematurely bald, bad at swearing, and equipped with a sense of perpetual victimhood. Brown is the Great American Depressive, and I for one am loath to let him serve some rah-rah agenda.

The one and only character the Little Patriot team might have been right about is Linus.  He does, after all, believe in a Higher Power (of pumpkin nature) and he can quote Scripture. Moreover, there is something about that round babyish face, that substance addiction, that frustrated political ambition….



I think they’re on to something there.





Sal Robinson is an editor at Melville House. She's also the co-founder of the Bridge Series, a reading series focused on translation.