Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Golden Book of Fairytales and a Pineapple

Today for our picture book library list, I'm going to present just one book. This book live in every home of every child, not just be a visitor.

Product Details

The Golden Book of Fairy Tales

Now I'm not a big fan of golden books in general. The stories are too wordy and the pictures are too—I don't know—boring.

Not so with this, the most golden book of all fairytales (he he he—how's that for drama!). Our copy is in shreds, so I'm going to get Lucy one for her birthday. And maybe I'll get Flannery one for her upcoming birthday too. These are the best kinds of fairytales for girls and boys—exciting, dramatic, not watered down (but not as dark as the original Grimm tales). There are princesses, but there are plenty of stories without princesses, plenty of heroes, plenty of struggle. The writing is wonderful, the pictures are so lovely. This is a book for older kids to read aloud to themselves or for you to read aloud to your kids. One story per bedtime and they will love you and this book and fairytales forever!!!

And remember, Albert Einstein said:

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

And now for something I find very, very amusing. Read this if you have time, because it is truly astounding. This was a passage from New York State's eighth-grade reading exam from 2012, created by Pearson, a mega-power in the standardized-testing, educational software, textbook world (the multiple choice questions about the passage are right beneath it):

In the olden times, animals could speak English, just like you and me. There was a lovely enchanted forest that flourished with a bunch of these magical animals. One day, a hare was relaxing by a tree. All of a sudden, he noticed a pineapple sitting near him. The hare, being magical and all, told the pineapple, “Um, hi.” The pineapple could speak English too. “I challenge you to a race! Whoever makes it across the forest and back first wins a ninja! And a lifetime’s supply of toothpaste!” The hare looked at the pineapple strangely, but agreed to the race. The next day, the competition was coming into play. All the animals in the forest (but not the pineapples, for pineapples are immobile) arranged a finish/start line in between two trees. The coyote placed the pineapple in front of the starting line, and the hare was on his way. Everyone on the sidelines was bustling about and chatting about the obvious prediction that the hare was going to claim the victory (and the ninja and the toothpaste). Suddenly, the crow had a revolutionary realization. “AAAAIEEH! Friends! I have an idea to share! The pineapple has not challenged our good companion, the hare, to just a simple race! Surely the pineapple must know that he CANNOT MOVE! He obviously has a trick up his sleeve!” exclaimed the crow. The moose spoke up. “Pineapples don’t have sleeves.” “You fool! You know what I mean! I think that the pineapple knows we’re cheering for the hare, so he is planning to pull a trick on us, so we look foolish when he wins! Let’s sink the pineapple’s intentions, and let’s cheer for the stupid fruit!” the crow passionately proclaimed. The other animals cheered, and started chanting, “FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN! FOIL THE PLAN!” A few minutes later, the hare arrived. He got into place next to the pineapple, who sat there contently. The monkey blew the tree-bark whistle, and the race began! The hare took off, sprinting through the forest, and the pineapple ... It sat there. The animals glanced at each other blankly, and then started to realize how dumb they were. The pineapple did not have a trick up its sleeve. It wanted an honest race — but it knew it couldn’t walk (let alone run)! About a few hours later, the hare came into sight again. It flew right across the finish line, still as fast as it was when it first took off. The hare had won, but the pineapple still sat at his starting point, and had not even budged. The animals ate the pineapple.
Here are two of the questions:
1. Why did the animals eat the pineapple?
a. they were annoyed
b. they were amused
c. they were hungry
d. they wanted to
2. Who was the wisest?
a. the hare
b. moose
c. crow
d. owl

That really was a question on the New York state exam (the state department of education has since apologized and promised to pull this question from future tests). If you want to read some insightful commentary on this (and standardized tests in general), read this article:
Oh, to read and read and just let our children do the same!

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