Forget The Gruffalo - the latest charming children's book to hit the market extols the virtues of gun ownership.
My Parents Open Carry is the brainchild of Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew, the co-founders of the Michigan Open Carry association and aims to demystify the concept of open weapon ownership for a juvenile audience.
Open Carry refers to the US policy of legally and openly carrying a firearm in public, as opposed to concealing it, in keeping with the Second Amendment constitutional right of US citizens to bear arms.
Brian and Nathan decided to write their book, complete with brightly coloured illustrations of gun-toting parents, because - perhaps unsurprisingly - they "looked for pro-gun children's books and couldn't find any."
Ably leaping to cover the gap in the market, they created the story of teenager Brenna and her parents, who "lawfully open carry handguns for self-defense".
Not much of consequence appears to happen to Brenna and if you're holding your breath for some riveting storyline, we'd suggest you slowly exhale. Judging by the synopsis, the book really is just about your average Saturday down the mall - with a gun in tow:
"Come join 13-year-old Brenna Strong along with her mom, Bea, and her dad, Richard, as they spend a typical Saturday running errands and having fun together. What's not so typical is that Brenna's parents lawfully open carry handguns for self-defense. The Strongs join a growing number of families that are standing up for their 2nd Amendment rights by open carrying and bringing gun ownership out of the closet and into the mainstream."
"Our goal was to provide a wholesome family book that reflects the views of the majority of the American people, i.e., that self-defense is a basic natural right and that firearms provide the most efficient means for that defense," the authors explain on their book's website. "We truly hope you will enjoy this book and read and discuss it with your children over and over again."
Alarmingly, White Feather Press, the same publishers behind this joyful Open Carry adventure are also offering a discount on a book titled Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate!
This tome of wisdom by the mysterious Doug Giles has the following delightful plug:
"Feminists would love nothing more than to take your son and eradicate his masculine uniqueness. They hate men, and therefore, they will hate your son. That is, of course, assuming that you, the parent, intend to raise your son to be a man instead of a rouged and lipsticked, male American Idol hopeful. Get it right, parental unit: in the coming days you will be facing female chauvinist pigs who have sick designs for your dear son in culture, in the classroom and in a lot of churches. These whacked women actually believe that masculinity, the male composition, and a guy's hormones cause boys to become wicked oppressors, sexually abusive and brutal beasts; and they have the inflated stats, the re-written history books and the hysterical spin to prove it. Your daunting mission is to go against the grain, stand up to the radical feminists, and raise your little man into a lion, capable of leading the next generation into a moral culture of God, family and country."
Suffice to say, news of My Parents Open Carry has been greeted with a mixture of outrage and bemusement on social media.
"For the first time in my 25 years in the biz, a children's book leaves me speechless," Elizabeth Law, the eminent New York-based children's book and YA editor, tweeted.
"Would love to deconstruct everything wrong with this. #1, Open Carry isn't a verb," she added. "Bad enough that her parents pack heat, but who made a teen wear a granny blouse? Or tease her hair? #badparenting."
"If you have to carry a firearm in order to feel safe in broad daylight in public places, then you have a problem, and you really should seek help," one person noted under the book's promotional video on YouTube (below).
The Amazon review page for the book has already attracted a stream of sarcastic comments.
"This book will help teach your kids that intimidating other people is A-OK, as long it makes you feel safe," says one person under the title "Guns Are People Too! "
"That you should embrace fear as a part of life because one day you will be assaulted, robbed, raped, and murdered (probably in that order). Don't you want to prepare your family for this inevitability? Well, then be a Patriot, stand your ground, and buy this book today!"
However, the book's publishers are keen to highlight a number of positive reviews on their website.
"Outstanding, outstanding … every person should buy five copies of this book. Very well done... I believe long overdue," says James Towle, host of the American Trigger Sports Network.
"Loved it, I ordered a copy for our school’s library," raves John Roshek, founder of the Citizens League for Self-Defense.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the US is home to roughly 35-50% of the world's civilian-owned guns, despite having less than 5% of the world's population.
Nearly 10,000 American children are injured or killed by guns every year, a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found earlier this year.
A survey by two New York City cardiologists in 2013 found that the US has 88 guns per 100 people and 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people — more than any of the other 27 developed countries they studied.
Organisations such as the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence have long opposed the policy of Open Carry, on the grounds that it encourages gun-related crime and is an invitation to chaos.
The US has been divided over the issue in recent years, with a number of major supermarkets such as Target adopting a no-guns policy. In June, the National Rifle Association issued a statement criticizing Open Carry Texas' campaign that read: "Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners."
What do you think? Let us know your comments on the topic on Twitter or in the comments section below.
Words: Anna Brech