The Grapes of Wrath: The Children's Version

      Today I would like to speak to you about an unfathomable evil. It is a horror which I have personally faced and although I survived, the scars will never heal. However, since it has been many years since I last tangoed with this child of Satan, I finally feel comfortable talking about it. The evil of which I speak, is of course, summer reading assignments. Summer reading assignments are the bane of honor students everywhere. While those lazy bastards with medicore GPAs were busy dicking away their summers playing N64 and hanging out at beach, the smart kids were stuck inside reading shitty books like Pride and Prejudice and Tess of the D'Urbervilles. OK, that's not exactly true. I can't speak for all honor students, but I spent the vast of my summers in high school screwing off, then about two weeks before school started, I'd realize I had a shitload of stuff to read. Sometimes I did, sometimes I Cliffed it. Actually, I generally used Barron's Notes because they were available free on AOL. Yes, I used to use AOL. I was young and foolish, and besides, I wasn't the one paying for it. The summer before my junior year of high school, one of the books I was supposed to read was The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

      I actually did read most of it, because there were rumors that the 11th grade Honors English teacher was ridiculously tough. Legend had it that she used to assign a massive Bible project , before the school board ordered to her to stop. The project, which was assigned in September, was to pick ten stories from the Bible and write a ten page analysis of each one. By the time I had her as teacher, it had become a group project and the assignment was to write and performed skits based on Bible stories rather than do any sort of analysis. The project was a total joke, but it did afford me the opportunity to smash a golden calf made out of Duplos. But in August of 1997, I had yet to discover that Mrs. Willis was much less scary than the rumors claimed. So I read Steinbeck's depressing Depression era tale, expecting the worst. And when I showed up on the first day of school, guess what Mrs. Willis assigned. Instead of asking us to write a lengthy paper that cited themes and imagery from The Grapes Of Wrath, we were given a couple of blow-off projects to choose from. At first I was pissed, because I had actually read the fucking book. Once I realized that I wouldn't have to do much work, my initial anger turned into relief and acceptance. The project choice that I selected was to turn The Grapes of Wrath into a children's book. Being both a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and eager to impress, I decided to do my version entirely in rhyme. It was a fairly ambitious idea, but I totally pulled it off. I went on to get an A on the project, an A for the term, and an A- for the year in Junior Honors English. It was a good time.

      In the following pages, you will find my children's book in its entirety as well as my commentary on it. I am doing this for two reasons. First, I think it's funny. Secondly, this project would never get an A in today's technology-driven world. In 1997, there were still dozens of families in my midde class suburban town that did not own computers. Still more did not have internet access and most of those who did were on dial-up connections. People were still primarily using dot matrix printers and color printers were a rarity. Also, it was hard to find good images online. The internet is exponentially bigger than it was in 1997, we surf it faster, and we now have useful tools like Yahoo Image Search. My project was A work at the time, but it would get a B- at best by today's standards. It's funny how the times change...