Changing With The Times

by beagooddad on January 9, 2009

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For the last week or so, instead of reading the normal picture book type of books that we normally read to the kids before bed, I’ve been reading them a chapter from Judy Blume’s book Superfudge.

I have a huge attachment to both this and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. They were two of the very first chapter books that I read on my own. My 1st grade teacher actually had to go into the school library and tell the librarian to quit chasing me out of the older kid section because I was supposed to be reading at that level. Take that librarian!

I’ve read the each of those books probably close to five or so times each over the few years following that so I know them fairly well despite not having read them at all for around 25 years. Man I’m getting old.

Anyway, I was skimming ahead on a chapter because I know it talks about Santa and I wanted to see how much they revealed about the big guy. They spill the beans so now I have to decide whether to skip the chapter, censor the section, read it and deal with Geetle’s million questions, or “accidentally” lose the book for a while. I’ll talk about that some other day.

What shocked me was this part. Peter, after being pestered by Fudge, writes a letter to Santa. Here’s his letter:

Dear Santa,
Please bring me one or more of the following items. A clock-radio, a remote-controlled model airplane, a laptop computer, an MP3 player and six CD’s.
Thank you very much.
Peter W. Hatcher

No big deal, right? That sounds like a reasonable request for a 6th grader.

Except the book was published in 1980. What kind of prognostication voodoo is that Judy Blume up to?

It looks like somewhere along the way, the contents of that letter were ‘modernized.’ We have a few of the really small Dr. Seuss books for babies. They are like 4″ squares. I’ve noticed that they have a tendency to change a lot of “he” to “she” to modernize the books.

Whatever. I don’t really care one way or the other, especially if the author made the decision, but it is odd to read a book again that you know you read 25 years prior and hear mentions of technology that were not around at the time you know you originally read the book. Just odd.

What I want to know is what the original contents of that letter were and are they so out of date that kids today wouldn’t be able to relate? Does anybody have an old copy of the book sitting around? The letter is in Chapter 10 – Santa Who? Let me know in the comments sand I’ll give you a virtual high five.

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