Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Dr. Seuss Might Have Worded It Differently, But Otherwise It's Just The Same

So a few weeks ago I wrote a strongly worded letter to EM’s teachers asking, among other things, whatever happened to the reading books you used to send home every Monday? And, are you fer’ real with these spelling words? “Jeg”? “Meg”? “Av”? You are aware, I hope, that she is nearly 8 years old and has been reading with ever increasing fluency for nearly 3 years now? Oh, and while I’ve got your ear for a minute here, why is it exactly that no one has yet bothered to teach her how to carry her ones and take away from her tens? I mention her age again (8 in May) only because it seems from the contents of her homework folder that you all seem to be operating under the impression that she is still 5. Or, mentally challenged. Or, even—I grudgingly admit it is within the realm of possibility—just plain stupid. So, like, what gives?

Her teachers (all three of them), whom I have always liked by the way, were quick to respond that: No, EM is most definitely not stupid. She is rather, a very bright, eager, and easy student. As far as the work level is concerned, we are simply following national curriculum guidelines for her age level. However, if I want her to have a bit of extra work, why all I had to do was ask.

Splendid. They sent her home with two extra reading books that very day. One in Norwegian, and they were pleased to announce the school had just purchased a set of early English readers which would be perfect for EM. So, here you are—the first in the series. Enjoy! Oh but please, they were quick to add, don’t push her too hard. EM likes to learn, but she’s still just a child and she likes to play too.

Pfft. What.Ever. Put that bloody Nintendo down EM, and read this. Yes! NOW!

When I first read the phrase ‘early English reader’, I was thinking cool, they’ve purchased the Oxford Reading Tree series, or possibly the Jolly Phonics books that I’m told are all the rage over in merry old England. At any rate, English books written by English speaking persons for English speaking children.

But, no. Being Norwegian, they naturally figured a Norwegian writer was better equipped to teach a Norwegian child to speak and read English for heaven’s sake. So what I’ve got here is a series of books written in halting, tortured English by, what I can only assume from the subject matter of these books to be, halting, tortured Norwegians.

I’m sure this violates all kinds of copyright laws, but I just have to share with you the text of the second book, in its entirety. There’s no way I can do this stuff justice in a brief synopsis.

So here it is: The Naughty Mice

It is evening.
They are eating.

(The illustration shows a family of four seated at a dinner table in the fuzzy background, and a cute little mouse drinking a drop of water from a faucet in the foreground.)

Mary says:
There is a mouse on the table.
(According to the illustration, the mouse is, in fact, on the countertop. But whatever.)

Steven points.
He says:
--There are two mice.

Daddy says:
--Are they walking on the table?
They are naughty mice.
I am going to fetch a trap.

Mummy says:
--Where are our cats?

--They are sitting by the door.
They are waiting for food.

They hear a snap.

A mouse has been trapped.
Daddy gives it to the cat.
(The illustration for this one shows a disembodied hand dangling a dead mouse in front of two cats. A dead mouse, for God’s sake! The hell?)

Daddy says:
--I will put the trap out again.

Yes, says mummy.
--Catch the other mouse.

Mary and Steven are going to sleep.

Steven says:
--How many mice got trapped?

--20 naughty mice, said Mary.
--And that is just tonight.

Personally, I think the story ends rather abruptly here, and I’m considering sending a suggestion to the publisher to add a tiny little epilogue:

The cats grew fat.
And they lived in continued squalor ever after.


Alpha Grandpa said...

So maybe the calling you've been looking for is to give these Norwegian children a set of early english readers worth reading. Just an idea.

Jilly Baby said...

I'll send EM "The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog" by Jeremy Strong, Heather's reading it just now and says it's hillarious. Maybe a humor injection is just what she needs (English humor that is, not Norwegian!!!).

Tif said...

It was so great to hear from you! Although it took me a while to figure out who JEDA is. What's with that? As soon as I began to read your blog, I knew it was you. Hey, I miss you by the way. How are you?

About the rolls, funny you should say that as I am making a batch today. AND THEY WILL WORK, so help me!! But I know what you are saying. I have a friend who claims she is so bad with yeast that she can cure a yeast infection. Gross, but funny, you must admit.

I'm glad you have a blog so I can keep up with you. Still, an e-mail with some news about your life would be nice and it wouldn't kill ya!!

Tif said...

Also, how dirty is that family's house that they have 20 mice? I'm just saying.

Mel 95 said...

My own "Elder Miss" is in first grade here in the US and she just finished writing a Young Authors book. It's called "Patch Runs Away". Even it (written by a seven year old, and spell-checked by mom) is better than that. Let me know if I need to package and send some readers from here.