(I received an email from the mother in question a few days ago. She was kind enough to tell me she and her 8-year-old liked my book Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, but that the whole family was shocked and disappointed by the opening line from the mummy poem. The opening lines are: "There's a place in France where the naked ladies dance./ But when King Tut died, he wore bandages for pants." What follows is my response to her email.)
Letters like yours are always distressing. It's never been my intention to offend parents or introduce children to any material I believe is inappropriate to their age. Of course there will always be spirited disagreement about just what is appropriate for children and what is not, and so here we are.
Why did I include the bit about the naked ladies in my poem? It was my intent with the mummy poem to craft something that would be understood to be read to a particular tune, in much the same way as the Phantom poems are in the same volume. When we take a cartoonish view of ancient Egypt we often think of a song that's familiar to nearly all Americans, even if most of us are unfamiliar with its actual title and history: "The Streets of Cairo, or The Poor Little Country Maid."
Of course, children everywhere have been singing this song to one another for decades with the schoolyard lyrics, "There's a place in France where the naked ladies dance, there's a hole in the wall where the boys can see it all," etc. I can't know if your son was familiar with this, of course. Maybe you weren't either, though I certainly knew it thirty years ago, when I was eight. My wife tells me that she sang it as a little girl as well.
Regardless, my early drafts of the mummy poem didn't contain that line about the naked ladies. But I discovered that readers were not intuitively realizing that they should be reading it to the "Streets of Cairo" tune, so I rewrote it with that first line from the playground standard.
I respectfully disagree that the line is inappropriate for school-aged kids, but I don't expect to change your mind. I take no pleasure, anyway, from learning that it bothered your son. But I hope you understand that I had an editor on this book, and that editor had a boss, and that boss had a boss. Likewise the publisher had a sales and marketing team that shared the book with hundreds of teachers and librarians before its publication. The poem was published as is because none of these people voiced any objections. Indeed, the book has been available for over five years, and this is the first objection to it I've received.
None of this means you're wrong, of course. You're certainly not wrong about the care and raising of your own son. But I want you to understand that there was nothing careless or cavalier about the years-long process of writing and producing Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. I hope you'll continue to enjoy it with your son, and to paperclip together the pages of the mummy poem until you return it to your library.