Jan 10 2006

Outraged.

Published by at 7:20 am under amy's head,kids,likes & irks

I have a bee in my bonnet.

It’s been there a while now, on this particular issue, but now I just can’t be silent any longer.

It started of course, with the live-action movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I have not seen it, nor will I ever see it. I actually recorded it with our Tivo, but then couldn’t bring myself to actually watch it. I think that a live-action movie could be made that would be true to the original, but just from what I’ve heard, this one wasn’t it.

Various things have come to my attention since the passing of the great Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss, that have made me cringe. But this most recent takes the cake.

We have many of Dr. Seuss’ books, some of them from our own childhood, over 20 years old. When Ethan was born, our neighbor gave us Dr. Seuss’ A B C, a delightful book that goes through the entire alphabet, and one that Ethan could “read” to himself, word for word, when he was about 2 and a half. It was in circulation for bedtime stories in massive purportions about a year ago, and has since fallen out a bit. With Jocelyn getting older, I know it will probably come back into use soon.

While, of course, it is wonderful to sit and read stories to your child for bedtime, I must admit, that I used to try to get Ethan to pick a different book, because this one is pretty lengthy. It has paper numbered pages, and I think there are more than 40 pages total. Especially in the beginning which has,

“Big A,
little a.
A.. a.. A..”

on the first pages, then have to turn to read and see,

“Aunt Annie’s Alligator,
A.. a.. A.”

He speeds it up after the first few letters and has the letter’s introduction and then the stuff for the letter all on the same page.

“Big G,
little g,
G.. g.. g.

Goat, girl,
Goo-goo goggles,
G.. g.. G.”

The illustration is on the opposite page, so you have 2 pages per letter (except for the first few letters, which is 4 pages per letter). Then you turn the page and read about H.

You are turning the pages pretty quickly of course, but still, it’s a good 5-10 minute read as opposed to Byron Barton’s Trains book, which is a minute, maybe two to read through. (Great one btw, still in bedtime circulation.)

Anyway, this is all background that brings you to me, at Costco Saturday morning, browsing through the books, when I hit upon Dr. Seuss’ “A B C”, and “Hop on Pop” in a large board book format. Very cool, because Jocelyn still rips paper pages on occasion, and I like the sturdy non-destructible kind. I open it up and glance at a few pages and not only is it a board book, but it appears to have condensed some of the page turning by putting 2 letters on one page, and 2 more on the opposite page – this appeals to me, because of the aforementioned tons of pages, so after debating about whether to get “A B C” or “Hop on Pop” I tossed “A B C” in, because it will mostly be read by Jocelyn at this point, and “Hop on Pop” is mostly read by Ethan, who can be gentle with the paper pages. I also get “Pokey Little Puppy” which is a classic children’s book, but I haven’t actually read it before. I’ve just found that if you’re going to come home with new books, better have one per child.

Blah, anyway, so I get home and show them both the new books I bought, and later settle in to read it to them. It doesn’t dawn on me right away, but this version of “A B C” is DIFFERENT, in more ways than mere layout.

FOR EXAMPLE!

ORIGINAL: CHANGED:
Big D, little d David Donald Doo dreamed a dozen doughnuts and a duck-dog, too. Big D, little d, what begins with D? Donald, donuts, duck-dog, D..d..D”
“A B C D E F G! Goat, girl goo-goo goggles, G..g..G.” “BIG G, little g, what begins with G? Goat and goo-goo goggles G..g..G”
“BIG H, little h, Hungry horse, hay. Hen in a hat, Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray!” “BIG H, little h, what begins with H? Hungry horse. Hen in hat. H..h..H.”
BIG K, little k Kitten. Kangaroo. Kick a kettle. Kite and a king’s KER-CHOO! BIG K, little K What begins with K? Kitten, kangaroo, K..k..K”

Now, maybe this really is a small thing and I’m blowing it way out of proportion. But to me, it seems like the whimsy and wonderfulness THAT IS SEUSS, is taking out of the changed version. It’s just lacking some of the original nonsensical essence. What fun Ethan and I had exclaiming at the top of our lungs, “ker-CHOO!!!!!” If I were to keep this version (oh, like THAT would happen. Maybe when they’re serving up milkshakes IN HELL) Jocelyn would never know that sipping six sodas could make you SICK SICK SICK!

It just makes me sad. It’s that same sadness I feel when I watch the original muppet shows and movies. I think that Henson Jr. is doing a pretty good job at keeping his dad’s legacy alive, with minor wrong turns here and there, but sometimes I wish everyone inheriting the rights to their spouse’s or parent’s art would just LEAVE IT THE HELL ALONE and let it end with them. We didn’t need Mike Myers being the Cat in the Hat, we didn’t need kermit to be a SECONDARY CHARACTER in the Muppet’s Christmas Carol (hell, we didn’t need a story that WASN’T ORIGINAL. Did you understand your father AT ALL?) and we didn’t need Jim Carrey as the Grinch.

I can understand why one might want his work translated to the big screen for a new generation to enjoy. I can kind of understand merchandising of his illustrations into other fields.

But I CANNOT understand how and why ANYONE EVER would want to take the “ker-CHOO” out of the A B C book. Seriously. It makes me want to cry.

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