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Celebrity Apprentice

On Sunday night, they will be airing an episode on Celebrity Apprentice where the two teams have to write and create a children's book. It seems the two 'celebrity' teams will be assisted by an editor from Marshall Cavendish and the winning team will earn money for their charity.

Whenever serious children's authors catch a whiff of a celebrity book, the rumblings begin. Questions begin to fly. "What does Celebrity X know about writing for children?" "How could Publishing Company Y think about giving a contract to that idiot?"

Now, it is true that the worst picture book ever created was by Billy Crystal and that celebrity books play an important role in the economy of children's literature, but I am not going to talk about those things. Instead, I am going to talk about raising awareness.

I believe celebrities writing books makes people aware of new literature out there. It gets them poking around the bookstore shelves rather than just grabbing the first book they recognize from their own childhood (which is rarely a good idea). I also think it inspires people to try their own hand at that kid's book idea that has been niggling at them for many years. In some cases, it gives rise to good literature, but in 99.9% of the cases it gets people to realize how hard it is to do what we do.

Not many people can live inside his or her head for hours at a time. Not many people can turn stories over and over again in their heads (and on paper) until it's just right. Not many people can look at their own work so objectively that they can axe thirty, forty or fifty pages from it, if necessary, and start again. What we do is hard.

Anyhow, do painters get irked when celebrities try their hand at painting or do musicians flip out when a celebrity begins a band? It's all creative expression. They are just as entitled as anyone to do it, even poorly.

So let the celebrities have at it this weekend. I assure you that every one of them will come out of the experience appreciating what we do a little more. Hopefully, so will the many viewers who decide to waste an hour of his or her life watching Celebrity Apprentice.