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Saturday, March 6, 2010

4th Grade Fortunes

It was READ ACROSS AMERICA week, and kiddos everywhere were riding the literary turbo boost. I was deployed to Stacy Gray's fourth grade class in Willard Orchard Hills Elementary School with a funny arsenal of Shel Silverstein poems and more. Little did I know it was PJ Day, and everyone was wearing bedclothes but me. I read some rockin' materials and then was encouraged to draw cartoons on the board. I drew Red Rogue, with a wristwatch and a newspaper. Their minds were getting blown. They wanted more and more cartoons. I drew an octopus wearing a spy hat. I drew Batman. I declined to draw Garfield. Then they gave me a shockingly loud and complex Tiger cheer that seemed to shake the building, along with a snack and a small bottle of water.

Here is a story I wrote and read to them:

The Dog Who Bit the Vacuum

This dog was sleeping when vacuuming started happening, like a tornado in his ears. He was under the sofa, so he thought he was safe and tried to get back to sleep. Then he remembered his favorite chew toy and peeked out just in time to see the vacuum suck it up! This fried his brain. He got so mad he just ran right at the vacuum and bit it on the mouth, which sucked up his tongue and stretched it all the way into the bag of dirt, which tasted dry and hairy. The vacuuming lady turned the vacuum off and helped him pull his tongue out. She laughed and laughed. They got a yardstick and measured: the dog’s tongue was now 32 inches long and looked like raw bacon with fuzzy lint stuck to the end. The dog realized he would really enjoy the maximum tasting opportunities that go with having a 32-inch tongue. He turned around to run outside and tripped on it, tasting all four of his feet (they tasted like stale crackers). Outside, he dragged his tongue all over. The sidewalk tasted like chalk and basketballs. The grass tasted like grass and shoes. His tongue caught on a bush and stretched like taffy as he crossed the street. The street tasted too hot and started to burn, so he took off running, but a car parked on his tongue and the tires tasted like burned rubber. Now his tongue stretched about 17 feet and was like pink spaghetti. A cat ran out and he had to chase it. Now his tongue is pretty much all over the neighborhood. You walked over it just the other day—that dog thought you tasted a little like chicken.

Here's one I didn't read because it was too controversial:

The Clam Who Stole the Monkey’s Body

Once there was a monkey stealthily eating clams that were sleeping on the beach. One of the clams woke up when the monkey broke a tooth on a hard clam shell and began to cry. “Poor monkey,” said the clam, “if you need stronger jaws, just pull off your head and put me on instead—I will bite open the shells for you and then you can eat the meat.” The greedy monkey could see only the profit involved and went ahead with popping his own head off and placing the clam on his shoulders. As soon as this was done, the clam was in control of the monkey’s arms. He grabbed the monkey’s head and flung it out to sea. He cursed his clam brothers for their lack of initiative and ran inland, where he developed an unbelievable appetite for corn on the cob.

I also gave the kids fortune-cookie fortunes without the cookies, such as:

If you drink too much coffee, you will get jittery and your eyes will go crazy.

Never eat your dinner while walking up the stairs.

Your school bus will pop a wheelie after you get off and you’ll totally miss out.

A raccoon will get into your refrigerator and eat all your puddings.

A banana peel will send you sliding all the way to the principal’s office. The principal will ask, “Did you eat my banana?”

One fortune that I cut from the list was, "Get ready for a smell so bad it makes you fall down." I didn't want to be accused later of threatening the school with a poison gas attack.


Sam said...

I like the mantis. I befriended one about twice the height of that one last summer. He looked at me like he really understood me. I wanted to take him home, but I knew my mindless dog would eat him, only after destroying the apartment getting to him. Are those stories yours? They're fantastic. I think you and I should make some children's books. Seriously. Also, I always thought "Misfortune Cookies" would dominate the chip market. Flavorful chips curled up with fortunes inside. Maybe made of pita...hmmm...anyway, your "fortunes" sound like the kind of material I had in mind. Why can't we make a bazillion dollars on this junk, huh?

Chad Woody said...

Twice or more I've found huge mantises--one was literally like a Sharpie with legs. That one flew off pretty quick, but they usually do that understanding look that you mentioned. They have a sentient demeanor. About a year ago I was raking some twigs and noticed that I'd raked right over one and mortally ripped its ass off. It was trailing stretchy guts and I finally had to step on it. I felt terrible and kept apologizing like it was a little man.
I agree--I have several children's stories in various states of finish, not to mention many misfortunes that I once put into sticks of gum because they were the right size and I didn't want to make cookies. I gave a pack of Misfortune Gum to Heather early on. Maybe I should go on one of those TV shows where they beg tycoons to fund their business ideas.

Sam said...

Certainly we can develop some kind of all-ages zine like the one my we did in Eric's class, kind of Epic magazine style—several short stories throughout, but with fun stories like yours. I really like the clam-head monkey tale. I have a guy in mind that would probably like to participate in illustrating something like that. Well, we can ruminate on this some when I'm done wankering about writing essays on spirit levels and abstract expressionism for my goddamn professors. (Commencement: May 14th)