You may have heard about the infamous question on New York State’s test for all eighth graders that gave them a fable about a hare and a pineapple and then asked them two questions. (You can read the fable and the questions here.) This caused a lot of head scratching by students, parents, and educators alike because the story and the questions seemed to make no sense.
It turns out that the test was based on a story by Daniel Pinkwater, a children’s author who, like Dr. Seuss, likes to write stories that tickle children’s fancy and spark their imagination with nonsense. The original story was about a hare and an eggplant but by the time the test designers had done with it, the story had become twice as long, become considerably unfunnier, the egg plant changed to a pineapple, but the nonsensical aspects remained.
Pinkwater was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about what he thought about the whole thing and the interview is a delight.
For some reason, unlike Dr. Seuss’s oeuvre, Pinkwater’s books did not appear on our radar when our children were young and so we did not read them to our children. That’s a pity because it seems like he is a funny guy with a nice sense of the absurd and his books would have been a lot of fun to read.