For those who aren’t familiar with the children’s classic Carl Goes to Daycare, written and illustrated by Alexandra Day, it’s a hyper-realistic tale of a gigantic dog being let loose in a daycare while the primary childcare provider attempts to break in to save the children and her job.
My kids love the vibrant imagery and childish antics. I love the tension of the entire book hanging on the edge of life-altering catastrophe.
Let’s take a closer look.
Things start out innocently enough. A mom is dropping her kid off at daycare. With a Rottweiler. Like she’s in an early 2000s DMX music video. She’s probably just being facetious when she says, “Take care of the children.” Surely Carl will stay outside.
Hold up. The dog goes inside, and… what’s this? The childcare provider appears to be locked out?
The children are so thrilled by Carl they don’t notice the absence of adults, or that Mrs. Manning is using a crowbar she had just laying around to try to break into the daycare.
What is even going on here? Carl has lost control of the children. Someone tell that little girl she is trying to ride a dog with lockjaw mechanism. Your head fits in his mouth kid, watch out!
Carl has regained control? Carl can read? Carl is making sure they keep to their daily schedule?
What is that wacky Mrs. Manning up to now? It looks like she’s trying to pick the lock with a colonial-era device used to churn butter. Meanwhile, a savage 125 pound beast is teaching the children horticulture tips. I know cell phones aren’t invented yet but FFS Mrs. Manning, go next door, ask to borrow the yellow pages and call a locksmith. You’re legally responsible for those children!
Carl in this picture is ALL OF US. Look at his face. Fuck crafting, amirite?
Carl is looking burnt out. We’ve all been there. He knows that if he just feeds these little monsters he’s one step closer to the end of this hell day where he can crack open a cold one or dig his teeth into a rawhide bone and imagine it’s the flesh of the loudest, whiniest child.
Meanwhile Mrs. Manning appears to be climbing a pine tree without an OSHA-certified harness and then smash through the skylight like a young Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
What‘s the deal with this daycare anyway? EVEN IF that moron Mrs. Manning was inside, surely this is not compliant with adult-to-children ratio laws?
Wow, Mrs. Manning. Tie your car to it, a reasonable solution to anything. Good luck to any kids in her care with a loose tooth. I hope the bumper flies off your VW Beetle, you realize this is the wrong career for you, and you’re able to get your fucking life together before a lawsuit destroys you.
AW SHIT THAT’S RIGHT! CARL CAN FUCKING READ!
Carl, you smug son of a bitch. You knew she was out there the whole time and could have opened the door, but you wanted to make her sweat.
Carl’s like, “Hey genius, you owe me one day’s minimum wage pay and also I took a crap by your desk.”
At the end of every book this lady acts like Carl is the crazy one. “Oh, hey, I just left you in charge of my infant daughter and like 24 other kids but I’m going to put my hands on my hips and be condescending because you’ve got a ladybug on your butt like a dang fool.”
You bet your ass you’re glad Carl was here, Mrs. Manning. Your jumpsuit is fly as hell but your judgment is questionable.
Memories were made, the entire day’s schedule was attended to, careers were saved. Carl may be a man of few words, but that doesn’t stop him from being a gentleman, a scholar, and above all, an unlicensed childcare-providing Rottweiler. Like, I can’t stress that last part enough.
While it is impressive that Alexandra Day could switch-hit as both author and illustrator, I felt Carl Goes to Daycare had more plot holes than the last season of Lost. The innocent amusement of the children juxtaposed with a savage beast who would rip them all to shreds if he was held without food for a week was, in fact, interesting. But throughout the tall tale I couldn’t help but imagine what would happen if the story was in modern times, and the daycare had webcams. Helicopter parents would immediately call the animal control SWAT team to storm through the windows with high-powered tranq guns. No more Carl. And after the state licensing agency got involved, no more daycare.
But if you can manage to suspend your disbelief for 10 minutes, Carl Goes to Daycare is an idealistic view of the potential heart of a rottweiler. I just wouldn’t be calling the pound to see if they have any good nannies anytime soon.