The New York Times editorial page is generally devoted to the most pressing issues of the day: the latest Republican treachery in the Congress, the gaping loophole in environmental protection policy, or the latest in a string of abuses by some third world dictator. But every now and then, the editorial board likes to bring every ounce of gravitas it can muster crashing down on something that annoys it.

In today’s piece, “Childhood for Dummies,” the Times viciously unloads on The Dangerous Book for Boys and The Daring Girl’s Guide to Danger. I’m all for kicking the little annoying guy, and these books certainly seem worthy of an ass-kicking (“In one sense, hiking is just walking on a footpath that often angles up, but in the wilderness.”), but this is the New York Times. These books are popular, but the Times gave them four inches of column space in between S-CHIP and consumer safety regulations.

The paper tries to justify its odd interest with some lip service to the broader cultural message of the books’ popularity (“How strange, yet telling, that parents would see a pair of $24.95 how-to manuals as the keys to a richer childhood”) but the truth is somebody on the editorial board just hates these books.  This guy brought a copy to work and made fun of it for an hour or two with his coworkers, and then decided to go for it.

It must be fun to be able to toss the weight of the best newspaper in the country into a couple of children’s books.