Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Textual Emendations

When I read books to our youngest son at night (because I'm interested in screwing over other people's children), it's usually Kindle library books on my iPad. That's just the result of living in China while our extensive collection of children's books is in the U.S. What this means is that we have a collection of six or seven books from which to choose, and as their loans expire, we replace them. This can mean that we read a book into the ground sometimes. When we do that, occasionally the text finds itself undergoing emendation to keep it interesting.

For instance, while reading OLIVIA Loves Halloween last night, we found the book slightly changed, as follows.

"Can we use red and black decorations?" asks Olivia. "Red is my favorite color!" Francine says, "Red is not a Halloween color. We must use orange and black." "This is why you don't have any friends," says Olivia.

If Olivia cannot have the perfect decorations, she's going to burn the school to the ground. I mean, she wants to find the perfect costume. But what should she be?

"You could be a cow," suggests Mom. "How could you say such a thing? It's going to take years of therapy for me to overcome the implications of that," says Olivia. "Or a lemon!" says Dad. "Are you suggesting you think I'm a lemon of a daughter?" asks Olivia. "Or an astronaut," adds Ian, "like me!" "Well, you're definitely a space cadet," says Olivia.

"I want to be different," says Olivia. "Different how?" asks Dad. "Different like we want to emulate you or different like we use you as a cautionary tale?"

At this point, my wife threatened to take away reading time. But just a little while later, the emendations returned.

"I am dressing up as a musician," says Julian. "I want to be a musician when I grow up." "Not me," says Olivia. "I want to be able to afford food."

"What do you want to be, Olivia?" Julian asks. Olivia wants to be lots of things! That's because she hasn't yet been placed on prescription medicine to help improve her standardized test scores.

"You are a really good artist," says Julian. "Not for long," says Olivia, "because the district is about to cancel art funding."

At the end of the book, because adults have ruined the modern kid experience, Olivia trick-or-treats long before dusk. When I called attention to this, my son said, "You trick-or-treat at night time!" And I was, like, "Yeah! I know!"

This post might make it seem like I don't like Olivia books. I actually do. It's just this one lent itself to a little more honesty. It could have been entitled OLIVIA Feels Like She's Taking Crazy Pills (in a Halloween Setting).

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