Russell Brand - like Madonna, Katie Price and Geri Halliwell - has written a children's book, and it's been described by critics as "excremental", "puerile" and "simply embarrassing".
Children's books have "hit a new low" the Independent's Nicholas Tucker wrote, despairing over a book he described as not only "wearingly offensive" but also "worryingly taken up... by hatred and loathing."
Hot off the back of Brand's anti-capitalist offering, Revolution, the comedian will this week be releasing Trickster Tales: The Pied Piper of Hamelin - the first in a series of "reinterpretations" of classic children’s fairy tales, and essentially what seems to be the kiddy version of his highly controversial adult book.
Speaking to The Guardian's Stuart Jeffries about his inspiration, Brand said that he wants to communicate to children "not to trust anyone in authority and listen to the voice within themselves and be awake to the possibility of radical change. Otherwise they will be killed.”
“Somebody once said to me," he explained: "‘Don’t worry about adults any more. We’re all doomed. Communicate to the children. Wake up the children.’ So I thought, right, yeah."
It features "hip-hop gangsta rats and a “glint-eyed philosopher-piper" - who looks suspiciously like the author - but it does not seem to be creating the effect the Hollywood star turned political commentator hoped for.
"Is there anything more spiritually bankrupt and presumptuous than celebrities who think they can write for kids?" the Guardian asked.
Writing for kids, Jeffries points out, is harder than you’d think - but that doesn't stop celebrities trying.
It is, he says, inevitably an effective way for famous people to "open up a new market for their products, one that, fingers crossed, extends their careers as bankable cultural workers."
But, the Independent argues: "Were it not for his celebrity, this book in manuscript would surely have been returned to its author by any publisher along perhaps with some kindly advice for seeking out an anger-management course."
In The Independent, Tucker argued: "A torrent of lavatory and gross-out jokes may just pass on a boozy night at a comedy club. On the page, they are simply embarrassing."
The critic describes how Brand's take on the classic folk tale is a "execrable, not to say excremental book" all presented in a "look-at-me writing style."
"Robert Browning in his great poem detested the Mayor of Hamelin and his corrupt council but deeply sympathised with the parents who had lost their children," he writes. "But Brand, rather worryingly for a self-styled revolutionary in search of followers, seems entirely taken up by hatred, loathing everyone save for crippled and bullied young Sam and his worthy mother."
Discussing the "revolutionary" aspect of the children's book, Tucker adds that "after so much random negativity the endorsement in the last few pages of the values of ‘truth, love and honour’ rings hollow indeed."
Brand has already said he hopes his critics will judge his new venture fairly and said that the project “comes from his heart”.
“I reckon that’s the nature of celebrity," he said. "There’s the judgement and all of that stuff, but in the end it probably balances out. I can’t control it. The book, I think, is a beautiful story and it came from my heart so that’s all I can really do.
“We live at a time when it’s easy to become distracted because the things that are important are invisible. I think there is something more behind the story of the Pied Piper.
“It’s not just, ‘Oh this guy came down and took away some rats’. It says let’s be very, very careful about what you allow to govern your consciousness — there are unseen and magical things that if you prioritise them, they will prioritise you.”
The first book has also been turned into a one-off live show, with Brand narrating for a special performance at the Royal Albert Hall next month.Suggest a correction