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11/22/2005

Some were predators and some were prey

The other day we took Charlie to the local bookstore, and he sat around on the floor while we picked out board books for him. Among others, a couple from the Sheep series (I'm going to have to take elocution classes before I can do justice to the need for dramatic readings) and a new copy of Big Red Barn to replace the old  one that Charlie enjoyed so much before he entombed its pages in a block of polymerized vomit. 

Last night, as Charlie sat up expectantly to read the new BRB for the first time, I had a moment of hippopotamus. Er, uncertainty. He's starting to understand a bunch of words — just ask the cats who were trying to slink by until I said, "Hey, Charlie, look at the kitties!"

So should I read him the version that's on the page, or the one that ought to be? Eventually he's going to find out the difference.

I spent 15 years working as an editor. Once I went up to a friend after a short-story reading and said, "That was great! There were only about half a dozen things I wanted to change." It just comes naturally to fix the scansion and omit needless words, or to add the occasional explanatory passage the author must have forgotten. And then there's the fact-checking: around these here parts, dogs say "Woof!" And things Charlie ought to know, like the potential dangers to monarch butterflies from genetically engineered corn pollen. And — but I digress.

What would you do? Slavishly follow the text? Favor him with a brand new reading each time? Maybe I'll just scan the book and print up new pages with the right words on them.

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