HarperCollins has just announced that Laura and Jenna Bush, former schoolteachers both, will be writing a children's book "about the joys of reading."
As a fellow HarperCollins children's book author (and lousy former school teacher, myself), I receive this news with kind of a mixture of emotions. Can I put it that way?
On the one hand, I am filled with writerly bitterness, chiefly regarding how much money, effort, and time my publisher will now be spending on this Bushes' book, as opposed to my books. (And mine are a series called NASTYbooks, so not much trickle down from the Bushes' offering to mine, I imagine).
On the other hand (but not conversely), as a citizen of a constitutional democracy I am filled with fury, outrage, and--more fury? contempt?--that these smiling lady folk get somehow help give cover or distraction from the actions of a hubby and dad who is in the process of wrecking everything worthwhile about this country, and harming and killing people across the planet.
But let's not give in to plain rancor here, shall we? Let's go the writerly route, let's channel our rage into something artistically constructive.
The Bushes' yet untitled book apparently tells the story of " a mischievous boy whose teacher helps him discover that reading can be fun."
The irony here is so howlingly overloaded and transparent that mockery would be both unnecessary and grotesquely redundant. And unfair?
So let's go for it.
Here are a few thoughts to improve the Bushes' kiddies book--title: NAUGHTY GEORGE?-- with some alternative story ideas. (Maybe usable for sequels?)
NAUGHTY GEORGE: A mischievous boy refuses to read or heed intelligence briefings, and when he gives briefings himself, he makes things up! "Lying, ain't it fun?" he cracks. "You little rascal," laughs his teacher, who works a second job at night as the US Congress. "Let's go destroy us some countries, plus this one!"
MORE NAUGHTY GEORGE: A culture loving queen wants to have a poetry celebration, but most of the poets want to call her royal husband a murderer. So she cancels the celebration, and befriends a mischievous illiterate tyke who runs after the poets shouting "Traitors! Infidels!" "You little rascal," laughs the queen. "Come on back and let's whiz through some Shakespeare!"
THAT NAUGHTY GEORGE: A mischievous lad hires a goon to protect his shenanigans. "We don't torture!" he cackles. "That's right, he don't torture nobody," his goon chimes in. "Nor spy or politicize gov'ments depts or ever forget how Terrorism Means We Get to Do Anything Alleged Might Have Been Done to Protect Our Freedom." "He's my little rascal," grins the lad. "He don't read neither!"
NAUGHTY NAUGHTY GEORGE: A dark-skinned city gets all flooded and half-destroyed. Heartsore (honest!) a reckless little fella gets out his chainsaw and cuts some brush to help all the poor suffering folks. "Hey, I bet bass fishing with this saw'd be a hoot, eh, Slim?" he quips down to the press corps, who are nosing around on all fours under the bbq table. "You little rascal," sputter the greasy-faced Fourth Estaters, snatching at ribs and taters. "Merci, merci, Your Highness!" they add, gobbling. "Fat slobs," sneers little fella. He chuckles, jabs at 'em with his saw. "Vroom, vroom, I'm gonna write a book myself, called Press Is All Fat Slobs. What say to that? Vroom, vroom!" "Merci, merci!" squeal the guardians of the public interest.
YOU THINK GEORGE IS NAUGHTY?: A neo-Frankenstein monster escapes from a business center and gets hold of a fatuous ventriloquist's puppet and somehow talks himself into the most powerful position in the world with it. He then ruthlessly deploys these powers for his own crack-brained catastrophic ends. A small group of concerned school teachers try to entertain the dazed populace by showing the puppet the wonder-working ways of books n' stuff like that. But the puppet just cackles at them. "Ooh, please don't execute me!" he mimics in a high voice, making a private non sequitur joke. "Little rascal, ain't I?" he winks. "Yes, you are!" cry the schoolteachers. "But we love you anyway, George!"
Much more where that came from, I'm afraid...
Thanks to UBER.COM, where this first appeared on my blog Brain Flakes.
Also now at Smirkingchimp.com