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Saturday, 30 January 2010

More evidence that spelling maters

I once saw a student misspell 'Turn of the Screw' as 'Turn of the Shrew' ...

So, what else to do, but to browse one's bookshelves for other potential animal classics ...?

'Mansfield Bark' - a novel set in 18th century England countryside in which the main characters are well brought up dogs who wear bonnets, bows and dresses.  These dresses reveal a not-inconsiderable portion of their chests.  They live in a manor house and hold a ball for all the local, lower-class dogs, during which there is a competition to see which of the dogs has the best bark.  Of course, the Mansfield dogs win, as it would not be seemly for dogs of a lower status to do so.  The dogs leave the ball, but do not dare complain about the injustice until they reach the end of the two mile long driveway.  Then, they all leave their calling cards just inside the tall, iron gates, even though that usually only happens between 2 and 3 in the afternoons.

'Purrsuasion' - Same story, but with cats.

'Pride and Prejudice' - same story, but with lions.

'Northanger Rabbit' - same story, but with ........... oh, okay, then, I'll stop the Jane Horseten books there and try something else.

'Lice in Wonderland' - A fantastical but tragic tale in which, finding themselves homeless after successful application of a strong chemical to a child's head, a family of nits discover a door which leads them into a strange and wonderful land.  They live on a rabbit for a while, but he is always rushing about and, as many of the family suffer from vertigo, they decide to move on.  A chess board provides a temporary home, but they have to live on the black bits in order to avoid being spotted and this proves tedious.  In the end, they are all attracted by a sweet and cloying smell one day, fall into a jam tart, are eaten by a Queen wearing lots of make-up, and die.

'The Big Sheep' - A sheep stands out among her peers as being unacceptably large and clumsy.  After years of teasing from others in the flock, and cruel jibes thrown at her by visitors to the farm such as 'Blimey!  You'd need a lot of mint sauce for that great lump!', she decides to throw in her career as a farm animal and try something else.  A couple of evening courses later, she goes into detective work, taking the name of 'Baa-lowe'.  She finds all the corpses unpleasant, and the staggering number of characters she meets makes her giddy at times - there has never been much need before to remember anyone's face.  But she turns out to be surprisingly handy at following criminals around in the wintry season, when camouflage is not so much of a problem for her.  She never works out who murdered the chauffeur, but she can cope with not knowing, because it's a damn sight better than being on a plate with roast potatoes.


'The Adventures of Huckleberry Fish' - Huckleberry Fish knows he should be in a school, but instead he prefers to wander around the sea, getting into scrapes and occasionally climbing onto a raft, although he soon finds that breathing is easier underwater and so that's only temporary.  He loves the free life, but when another young fish comes along and says, 'I saw yer swimmin' along and wunnered whether you'd fancy a comin' along with me and meetin' my ole Aunt?' he goes along with it for a while.  But when the Aunt starts trying to tidy up his fins and make him swim along in an ordered and civilised way he decides to go back to his old life.

'Pigmalion' - A young farm pig is taken on by an older one (Professor Piggins) who attempts to teach him to behave in a more socially acceptable way.  After many, many sessions in which the young pig walks around the pen balancing books on his head (disconcertingly, a set of cookery books found in the farmyard kitchen, one entitled 'Ways with Pork') they embark on improving the way he pronounces his 'oink'.  There is progress, but some unfortunate incidents at social events hold things back.  Also, reciting 'The Rain in Spain falls Mainly on the Plain' doesn't seem to get them anywhere with making 'oink' sound more cultured.  In the end, though, the young pig flowers, suddenly and very surprisingly, into a beautiful young woman with many social graces, and she goes off on her own, leaving Piggins to meet his fate as one of the recipes in the book.

24 comments:

  1. Too funny! You should be a blurb writer for children's books. I think it'd go over really well :)

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  2. Thank you, Little Miss - I will consider it as a career if, for some reason (ie writing about my pupils' spelling mistakes) I am ever dismissed.

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  3. Bwahahah! I'd only just stopped laughing at the last one :-)

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  4. Just what I needed after watching Andy Murray fail miserably in the Australian Open final. I'm smiling again.

    Surprised you missed Cats 22 though. A satirical novel about two teams of 11 moggies who illustrate the futility of reason in the field of military conflict by chasing their tails in a circular and repetitive style.

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  5. Keep laughing, Caz - it's the only way in our profession.

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  6. Martin - Your Cats 22 scenario is wonderful. Yes, poor old Andy. Still, I think he comes out of that with his head held high and his pockets full of cash. Not too bad a position to be in.

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  7. I've always rather liked the idea of Mansfield Parp after being forced to study that GCSE year aaaaaaah or perhaps Mansfield Bark where the irritating Fanny is turned into a werewolf.

    Kate xx
    http://secretofficeconfessions.blogspot.com

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  8. Kate, your idea for an Austen Gothic is quite appealing. With the current obsession about Twilight, perhaps the kids would really go for this.

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  9. I am really wondering about something here: Do the pupils type their essays or handwrite them? Could dyslexic fingers be the culprit?

    I've no idea what happens in schools nowadays, even my kids are old enough to have left.

    PS Andy Murray? Bah, snort, snort!

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  10. Hi Friko - mixture of both. But it makes no difference either way. They always beg to be allowed to type it, hoping they will make fewer errors that way, but they still don't realise that spellcheckers can't tell whether they need 'their' and 'there' so many of the basic errors come right on through!

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  11. (Miss, I wish you'd been my beak at school. I would have been a right gurly swot).

    Alas! The little darlings will insist on relying on spellcheck.

    Only yesterday, I marked a piece by a not-so-little darling that contained the immortal phrase "His face was devout of faecal impression."

    A Toffee Crisp to anyone who can identify what the student intended to write!

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  12. What a fun list! You are so creative. Let's see if I can think of one too ... mmm ... how about A Tail Of Two Cities? Or The Adventures Of AllOfOur Twist? I don't have descriptions, I'm afraid. That's your job.

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  13. Some children will doubtless be studying The Dairy of Anne Frank - the moving tale of a young girl trying to milk her cows in a small attic undetected during WWII. BUt it ends badly when the Gestapo come banging on the door looking for Juice.

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  14. Devoid of facial, Moptop, only after reading what he really wrote, I'm not sure I fancy the toffee crisp any more ... Kids! Doncha jus' love 'em?!

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  15. Lesley - hey, come on, don't leave all the work to me!

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  16. Can’t resist! And the same book example as your other post strangely fits…

    Testament of Ewes
    Female sheep are sworn to tell the truth as young rams bang heads on the muddy fields of Marshall Haig Farm.

    The Dairy of Anne Frank is inspired! Also love Cats 22, and your examples of Lice in Wonderland and The Big Sheep. Such a fab idea!

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  17. Thanks for your comment, Jayne, and your book idea. I love the way everyone's contributing one. 'Testament of Ewes' is great!

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  18. I once wrote a story called 'Moebius Dick', but it went nowhere...

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  19. Hi, John - thanks for dropping in. Wish I could understand the joke. Am I being dense?

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  20. Fran, are you serious? John is referring to a Mobius Strip - a continuous loop which looks like a figure eight, but has only one surface. You make one by twisting a strip of paper once, before gluing the two ends together. It was a strain to stop laughing long enough to be able to type this! :)

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  21. Well, I'm glad you said that, Jinksy, because when I googled it, all I found was websites about some awful syndrome which makes people paralysed. As you can imagine, that made me wonder about the joke .... Glad to hear it's also a continuous loop of paper!

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  22. I take it that I have your permission to copy and paste one of these on my Facebook page, all while giving credit where credit is due.

    You're not being helpful, Miss. I'm not getting any work done. You are to me what chocolate is to you.

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  23. Deborah - yep, go ahead. Just tell 'em all I want 100 hundred followers by my birthday at the end of April and send 'em over here.

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  24. Deborah - I mean 100, not 100 hundred. That's just greedy.

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