I ran across this on Amazon. It's a review of the John Steinbeck novel The Pearl by a student forced to read it for class. Says she: "Dumb. Short. Kills off people. Retarded ending."
Well, at least it's short. Here's what the same student had to say about To Kill a Mockingbird: "Long. Boring. Kills off whole reason for book."
To sum up, if you want to be a successful author, don't write books that are long, short, boring, retarded, or kill off anything.
I know a fair number of children's authors and I thought it would be fun to have one or more of them make a guest appearance on this blog. Trouble is, I'm horribly sensitive. What if I asked an author and she said something like, "Stick it in your piehole, loser!"
That would make me feel very bad.
So, I'm going to be tricky. I'll guilt an author into appearing here. My first victim is Ruth Barshaw, author of the newly-released middle-grade novel, Ellie McDoodle, published by the fine folks at Bloomsbury. I ordered up a copy as soon as it came out and I have to say that it's terrific. Did I mention that Ruth is an artist? Okay, she is, so Ellie McDoodle not only contains a fair number of words, it contains many pictures, all of them drawn by Ruth herself. You knew that the book is an illustrated diary kept by Ellie, right? Okay, it is, so now you know.
In fact, if you happen to have spawn of both genders, you could buy Ellie McDoodle and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (mentioned here last week), and then you've got an illustrated diary from a boy perspective and one from a girl perspective. I'll let you figure out which is which because I don't want to take all the mystery out of your life or anything.
My spawn are both boys. My mother once gave them Barbies for some strange reason. An hour later, both Barbies had been decapitated and the heads buried somewhere on a golf course. The bodies were given to the family dog, which chewed them for a while and then threw up on the carpet.
Back to Ruth's book. Ellie McDoodle (played by the late David Janssen) is a pediatrician who gets in a horrible fight with her wife (played by Zsa Zsa Gabor or somebody) and storms out of the house. When Ellie returns, she sees a one-armed man (played by a guy whose name I can't remember) running out of her home. When Ellie goes inside, she finds that her wife is dead.
"Why, that rotten one-armed man killed my wife!" Ellie says. "Nuh uh," says Lt. Gerard (played by that one guy with wavy hair). "You did it. I'm taking you in."
"Nuts to that," Ellie says, but she is put on trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death. Then she's on a train on her way to get executed and the train crashes and Ellie gets away. All of the episodes that follow are about Ellie trying to find the one-armed man while staying out of the clutches of Lt. Gerard. At the end, Ellie finds the one-armed man on a roller coaster or Ferris wheel and is finally cleared of the murder charges.
Oh. I seem to have strayed into describing the plot of The Fugitive, which ran on TV for four seasons back in the sixties. Make no mistake, it was a great show, although I never watched it much since I was really little at the time. I liked cartoons and stuff. And Hogan's Heroes. Now that was an awesome show. Did you know that Robert Clary (who played LeBeau) was actually in a German concentration camp? I met him once and he showed me the numbers tattooed on his forearm. McHale's Navy was also great. I just bought the season one set. Can't wait to watch it!
Dang, I've strayed again. I guess Ruth Barshaw will have to make a guest appearance on the next issue of this blog and straighten it all out. Heh.
Email of the day
Dear Dr. Missy,
I want to write a Christmas story for children. Should I write it now or wait until it's really Christmastime?
Linda (not my real name)
Don't wait until Christmas! Even though it's nearly June, publishers are hard at work right now preparing holiday books. As a matter of fact, I'm working on a Christmas picture book. Check it out:
"There is time yet for you to be saved, Ebenezer Scrooge." Jacob Marley rattled the heavy chains that bound him. "You must not suffer my fate!"
"You know," Scrooge said, "I've been giving that some thought. I am a bloody creep. I'm going to do something good for a change."
"You will be visited by three spirits, Ebenezer--" Marley stopped and stared. "What did you just say?"
"I said, Jacob, my old friend, that I'm going to quit being such a relentless jerk. I'm going out first thing and donate a huge sack of money to the workhouse. Good idea, huh?"
"No. I mean, yes, The thing is, we've got these three spirits who are going to visit you this night, The ghost of Christmas Past, the ghost of Christmas Present--"
"Ah! Christmas present! Speaking of presents, I realize you're dead, Jacob, but how about a nice pair of bolt cutters to get rid of those idiotic chains? You shall have the finest pair of bolt cutters in London, silver plated with a knob on the handle!"
"Sounds wonderful, Ebenezer, but we've gone to a lot of trouble to have these spirits visit you. You don't know how much paperwork is involved. If they show up and you've already been redeemed, there will absolute hell to pay!"
"No problem, dear Jacob. Have your spirit friends come on over. We'll lay on a gigantic spread-- roast ham, sweet potatoes, a turkey or two, some stuffing..."
"It's a lovely thought, Ebenezer, really it is. But these spririts are dead as doornails. They can't eat."
"Hmmm. That is a problem. I say, Marley, what does it mean, anyway?"
"What does life mean?" Marley asked hopefully. "See, that's where the spirits would be very handy. They could explain--"
"No, not that rot. 'Dead as a doornail'. It really makes no sense. Doornails are inanimate objects, old boy. If they had been alive at one point and then died, it might make sense. I think I'll buy a doornail factory and donate all the profits to the poor. Splendid idea!"
"Um, before you do that, do you think you could go out and kick a few orphans around, just for old times sake? The spirits would like that, it would make them feel like they had a real rotter on their hands."
"Good heavens, no! Those poor children. Well, we will soon set things right for them. While I'm at it, I've heard tell of a wonderful new doctor. I'll bet he could cure Tiny Tim. If anyone deserves to live a long, healthy life, it's that boy!"
"It won't do! It's simply won't do!" Marley's face twisted in anger. "You bloody fool! I went to a lot of time and trouble to get those spirits here, and you decide to turn into some goody-goody before they even arrive! Where's the Ebenezer Scrooge I knew and feared? Where is that heartless old coot who was despised by all?"
"Gone forever, Jacob. You have shown me the light, and I thank you for it. From now on, the name of Ebenezer Scrooge will be synonymous with good deeds and generosity. I'll think I'll go out and--"
Marley brought down the fireplace poker savagely on Scrooge's head. "I'm not getting into trouble with those spirits just because you won't cooperate. I'll just tell them you died. And you just did." Dragging his chains behind him, Marley trudged to the door. "It would have been better if I'd gone straight to hell. Damned do-gooders...."