September 28, 2010


You might remember my mentioning a nastalgic love for the book, Bread and Jam for Frances.  After the librarian practically had to pry it from my hands this last time, I decided we needed our own copy.  A few clicks on this summer in the States and we had a copy in our hands.

I thought.

Let me warn you NOT to buy books from the HarperCollins "I Can Read" line.  Nowhere on the cover of these books, neither front nor back, will tell you that they have been - in the words of the HarperCollins customer service rep that I waged an email war with - "lightly abridged for the early reader."

The horror is that someone reading Bread and Jam for Frances who had not grown up with it would not know that it was missing some of its words.  It was that close to the original.  Why was I so irate, then, you might ask?  Because we are talking about classic childrens' literature that has been tampered with WITHOUT MENTIONING so anywhere in or on the book.  How many kids out there who's first exposure to Bread and Jam for Frances are not aware that she spread her lunch out on a doily?  Oh, just throw that word out, the editors must have said (22-year-old kids, no doubt, who grew up watching Barney). No one says the word "doily" anymore.  Did you know that "doily" was originally the name of a fabric made by Doiley, a 17th-century London draper? No, you didn't, and neither will the next generation of readers.

Needless to say I was quite hot over this whole word-snuffing outrage.  I told HarperCollins to be more careful in the future, as there might be someone like me who has more time on their hands and could make things very uncomfortable for them.  Daniel, who was in the bath during this particular rant and needed a washcloth, simply said, "That's nice, honey, will you throw me a doily?"