Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sabbatical Land Meets Spring Break Land

So just as I return from driving hither and yon for readings and class visits at other schools, our own beloved college town has nearly emptied of its students. Alas, they’ll be back. And thank goodness! Besides, it’s not as much fun to be on sabbatical when everyone else is on spring break anyway. Where’s the specialness in that?

Anyway, this time the deep thought comes courtesy of Richard Scarry. Remember him? The Best Word Book Ever, What Do People Do All Day (my personal favorite and a question I’m still asking), Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, etc. Weren’t the folks of Busytown just the best? Good ol’ Huckle Cat and his friend Lowly Worm. Mr. Fixit, a clever fox, and Sergeant Murphy, a trustworthy cocker spaniel. Smokey, Sparky, and Snozzle, pig firefighters with dubious skills (is that a colander on Snozzle’s head?). Miss Honey, a bear who taught school—kindly, of course. Just typing this makes me feel slightly, um, like I’m on drugs. Which I most definitely am not.

Now here’s the fascinating part: the books have changed—a lot—from, oh say, 1963 to 1991. Evidence: now, cats have glasses, girls can chase boys and not just the other way around, and boys, too, can play ring-around-a-rosie. I know! Also, apparently bear children, and other children, one assumes, are no longer unquestioningly obedient. The bear pictured above may still wear his retro yellow and orange outfit (nice!), but he’s not coming when he’s called. Nope. Just headed to breakfast of his own free will. Intrigued? Check out this comparison of then and now.

But wait, there's more. If you thought all that other stuff was pleasingly crazy, you’re really going to like this. Anyone else notice how pigs in Richard Scarry books often work as butchers and seem to enjoy bacon and hot dogs? Or how one minute a lion is a doctor and the next he's in a cage at the circus?

Should we be disturbed? Maybe. Probably. But I'm not. I like the idea of pig firefighters rescuing "gentleman" cats and "beautiful screaming lady" cats. The pigs and the cats may eat pulled pork back at the fire station. Oh well. The point is, they're eating side by side. And, for now at least, everyone made it out alive.

And that's What Sabbatical + Spring Break Means to Me. Thanks for asking.

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