Monday, October 8, 2012

The World's Worst Kids Book


Not even joking.

When I was in 6th grade, we were assigned a book report that had to be done on a book from this one certain series. The series' concept was pretty cool; it was aimed at tweens and had the characters interacting with famous figures in history. One I particularly liked was where the girl escaped from slavery and traveled with Harriet Tubman. That was cool.

The next choice, unfortunately, was the one where the kid had some contact, briefly, with Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. If you don't know much about them, that's okay. They were missionaries in Oregon, to the Nez Perce tribe, and were murdered. In the book, the boy never hung around with them for long and actually, not much was mentioned of them. I think they may have died during the events of the plot, but it was just said, not pictured. The protagonist was off getting lost or something. You know. Kid stuff.

Well great, fine. Interesting book. Typical G-rated kid adventure, only for a required assignment.

The next assignment was to read a non-fiction book about the historical figures presented in the novels. I could dig that.

Except for Marcus and Narcissa Whitman were the historical figures.

Remember how the novel didn't go into detail?

Well, the biographical book, which came from the kid section of my school's library, and was written for children, did.

Horrible, horrible detail.

Marcus Whitman apparently died of "hatchet to skull" disorder. Okay, sure, I get that. A little gross.

It gets worse.

Narcissa Whitman was, apparently, shot several times in the chest, after which the murderer picked her up by the hair and whipped her corpse in the face a few times. There may or may not have been more gunshots. Also, they threw in some descriptions of children being shot and/or hacked.

You'll understand if I don't remember much more of the book.

But someone looked at this book, at some point (because it was from the 1960s, when schoolchildren were apparently way more hardcore) and said "buy that sucker."

Oh, the wonders of childhood.

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