Ah, children's books. Do you know them?
The Post Quiz: Unedifying Plotlines
We're talking all month about what it was like to be a kid. Over in the US of A, educators are arguing about children's literature: which books are good for kids? Is Dr Seuss really subversive? Are all those feel-good morals just hypocritical?
We're more worried about the fact that, reduced to plot summaries, most children's books are pretty hair-raising. See if you can identify your favourites from our (admittedly resistant) readings of the plots.
What book is being described in the following snark?
- Cliché pirates bury stolen treasure, uttering their trademark 'aargh'. (They do this so much, the parrot picks up the habit.) A British magistrate and a doctor take an underage child with them on a sailing ship, and his mother doesn't object. They steal the pirate treasure and maroon several sailors, but this is all right because the looters are respectable people.
- A young elephant grows up in a city and wears clothes. His education in civilisation suits him to become the new king of the elephants. This story is the fault of the French.
- This British horror tale involves vegetable gardens, and a father who ended up in a stew. (Meat is murder, people.) Clothing items are stolen and used on a scarecrow, while the victim is fobbed off with chamomile tea. Why hasn't John Carpenter filmed this mess?
- E. Nesbit penned this edifying children's story in which a father is wrongfully imprisoned by the Russians. The kids become trainspotters. Go figure.
- Alien abducts human children and tries to convince them of the joys of arrested development. Various stereotypical tropes are enlisted, including Red Indians, mermaids, and the ubiquitous pirates. (Aargh.)
- A terribly British bear lives in a terribly British forest and speaks terribly British babytalk while doing nothing in particular. Call it Seinfeld with tea breaks.
- Another horror story. This one involves a ravenous beast that devours everything in its path. It gets a well-deserved stomachache. Then it turns into something pretty, so it's all right.
- Kid paves the road to food-production business success by resisting the temptation to eat up the profits. Stereotypical bad kids drown in chocolate, get sucked up into the factory machinery, or turn into grotesque blueberries. There's a moral in there somewhere: we defy you to find it.
- A manual for pet owners: this story demonstrates the dangers of letting a feline babysit human children – unless, of course, said feline comes with its own house-cleaning equipment.
- Speaking of bad influences: a girl follows a rabbit down a hole, and is subjected to drug culture, bad language, Dali-like surrealism, and bilingual puns.
We're sure you guessed all that. Just in case, the answers may be had by clicking the picture.