Reading is Fundamentally Depressing

Hello!  Thank you for ordering the Harshstone Press 2015 catalog.

The world of children’s book publishing is a highly competitive arena, and with smart, literate parents demanding quality kid-lit at a higher rate than ever before, it’s not easy to stand out.  Here at Harshstone, we let our work speak for itself; rather than spending a lot of money on wasteful multimedia presentations, a fancy New York office, or celebrity authors who are just using their fame to cash in on an emerging market, we rely on our unique approach to convince you that we should be the #1 book publisher in your child’s life, not just the #3 book publisher in Great Falls, Montana.

Harshstone Publishing was founded in 1978 by James Edward Grell, a professor of electrical engineering and amateur taxidermist, and his wife, Lorena Sharkman-Grell, a children’s oncologist.  They brought their talents for art, storytelling, and commerce to bear on one fundamental agreement:  the books you read as a child are meant to prepare you for life as an adult.  The company has since passed on to their daughter, Phillycia Sharkman-Grell Petöcz, but she agrees with the philosophy on which her parents started Harshstone:  coddling children by teaching them nonsensical fantasies about friendship, harmony, and everyone getting along not only does them a disservice by failing to inform them about the cruelly competitive nature of reality, but does society a disservice by creating generations of coddled, delusional toddlers who don’t know the meaning of real pain and won’t eat their lunch because it doesn’t come in hilarious shapes or tap-dance.

For almost 40 years, Harshstone has shaped youngsters from petulant blobs of breast milk and co-dependence into solid blocks of balanced realism, and we’ve passed the savings on to you.  We already staked our claim as the leading budget children’s book in the marketplace by such innovative techniques as only printing on recycled newsprint; hiring editors for whom English is a second, or preferably third, language; and using only two colors in our printed material:  black and slightly diluted black.  This year, we’ve made our boldest cost-cutting measure ever by firing all of our staff artists and using only one of two dozen pieces of public domain clip art of hockey players as illustrations for our books.  It is by this measure, sponsored by our corporate partners at HockShottzz of Glentana, that we are able to offer you a price point of $0.65 on all our books for the 2015 season, easily the lowest of any children’s publishing house.

But just because we save on the flash (and continue to fulfill our mission statement by teaching children that the world is often a drab and disappointing place where there is little to do but sit inside alone looking at old photographs of the last few seconds of a power play) doesn’t mean we scrimp on the story.  We’ve still got all the terrific tales kids love the best, crafted by our in-house writing staff and his cousin, when available, to help you help your sons and daughters become adequately prepared for a future of coping with drudgery, frustration, and occasional mild amusement.  Here are free previews of five of our most hotly anticipated titles for this publishing season; we look forward to serving you.

Mommy Had Margaritas (Carl Stuckfeather & Hettie Gretch):  In this delightful story aimed at children 3-6, Dad humorously explains the specific circumstances behind your child’s accidental conception and birth while making a cocktail for cranky Mom.  At the end of the story, it is clear that although no one wanted the child, or really even loves it all that much, the parents understand that they have a legal responsibility to care for it.

Fun with Shapes (Donald Quarkmesser & “Dr. Don”):  For infants and toddlers, everything is new, and nothing is more exciting than simple shapes and objects.  In “Dr. Don’s” latest book, following on the heels of Animals Don’t Have Feelings and Blankie’s Date with the Trash-Man, newborns are introduced to all manner of thrilling squares, ovals, triangles, and rhombuses, in three pleasing gradients of grayscale.  After reading the names of each shape, “Dr. Don” explains that the shapes do not have any degree of sentience, and, as they are simply images on paper, they cannot possibly be friends.

On the Job with Uncle Steve (Bane Horselover, Morton Horselover, and Savumiamurthy Muralidarian):  Part of the wildly popular “On the Job With” series, this installment finds middle-schoolers accompanying Uncle Steve to his job as a programmer for a start-up that aims to revolutionize the way people put on socks.  Kids will learn valuable lessons about economics, productivity, and failing to meet weekly deliverables as they join Steve in the Nap Cube, follow Steve to a meeting where he is loudly berated by a man 14 years younger than he is and wearing a Super Mario World t-shirt, and help Steve to fill out the forms for the unemployment insurance he will fail to collect after the start-up folds because he was categorized as an “independent contractor”.

Mooble the Gooble (Janet Fong Semperfi):  Mooble the Gooble is a Stick-Legged Stooble, and that makes the other Stoobles mad!  They make fun of Mooble the Gooble, which makes him plenty mad, but because he lacks money, social capital, and the willpower to engage in violent aggression, he just has to sit there and take it.  By reading the wacky adventures of Mooble the Gooble, kids will learn that they will often be mocked and belittled for standing out in any way, and that their best option in most cases is to accept their fate with equanimity.

Amy Spattlebank’s Kooky Cookie Prom Adventure (Seamus Adelman):  It’s prom night, and once again, Amy Spattlebank is marching to her own drummer:  instead of going to the dance, she’s going to stay home, look through her parents’ pantry, and come up with an elaborate and pointless spreadsheet comparing various data from cookie and snack cracker packages.  Rated five stars by Dysfunctional Asperger’s Quarterly in the 17,850-word review from their Dated March of 2015 But Will Actually Be Released in Late December of the Previous Year issue.

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