Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Put Me in the Zoo

When Finn was still in the hospital, I started buying books. We already have many, many books from my childhood, but I wanted to get some board books that he could start chewing on as soon as he came home from the hospital. I reproduced a couple of my favorite titles: "Put Me in the Zoo" and "Ten Apples up on Top."

Imagine my dismay when I found that these were expurgated versions, made simple for early readers.

Pardon me, but wasn't that the point of the original books?

I really noticed it in "Ten Apples," where the deletions make the narrative spotty and confusing, leaving the reader to wonder "Where the hell did they get roller skates?" but that's another review.

"Put Me in the Zoo," in its original form, is a multi-layered tale full of whimsy and magic. The expurgated version bills itself as a book about colors, but the original tale is about so much more. It's about matching your skills to your career; it's about understanding your ability and identity and figuring out how you can best contribute to society; it's about overcoming personal criticism to find that which makes your soul complete. It's about a talking dog-cat who can put his spots onto other animate and inanimate objects.

The expurgated version does not have the same confusing narrative lapses as "Ten Apples (abridged)," but the story loses its full vigor and depth with the cuts.

Finn loves it. It's his favorite book right now, the one he brings to us with his questioning "Ah? Ah?" We have to read it over and over, sometimes going back to the beginning when we are in the middle of the story.

Luckily, in the abridged version, this does not really hurt us.

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