Sunday, March 05, 2006


One night, for no reason I can recall, I started writing “condensed” versions of picture book classics, often with, shall we say, a bit of attitude thrown in. At first I started calling these little ditties “Cliff’s Notes for Busy Parents.” Later I called them kidlits in honor of Maurice Sagoff’s great Shrinklits (the opening couplet of his condensed Beowulf is ever-etched in my mind: Monster Grendel’s tastes are plainish. Breakfast? Just a couple Danish.). Finally, I settled on Oddaptations, a name I think fits nicely.

My goal was usually to be as brief as possible – I sum up all Curious George books in four lines, for example -- though occasionally a longer form was called for (my take on Are You My Mother is written as an epic). Most are in rhyme, though like with picture books in general, some simply don’t want to be rhymin’. I have no idea what to do with them, so I figured here was a good place to start sharing. I’d love to hear feedback, btw, but am happy just to let them see the light of day....

GOODNIGHT MOON -- Margaret Wise Brown
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

That great room is green.
That old lady’s spooky.
That half eaten bowlful of mush is quite ooky.
That Cow on the wall has leapt off of the ground,
And someone named Nobody’s walking around.
All over the room runs a squeaky, small mouse…
So I hope you sleep well in this creepy, weird house.

THE GIVING TREE -- Shel Silverstein
Oddaptation by Gregory K.

As a young boy, he was sweet and not needy,
But as he grew up, he became super greedy.
The tree shoulda told him to shut his big yap.
But no... that poor tree gave new meaning to “sap.”

(links to all my posted Oddaptations are collected on the right hand side of the blog under the headline "The Oddaptations")

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Disco Mermaids said...

I love your Oddaptaions...hopefully you'll do more in the future. And I have to admit, Goodnight Moon always gave me the willys, especially the line "Goodnight air."

- Jay

Cheryl said...

I love those too.

Greg Pincus said...

Thanks Jay and Cheryl. i should start a poll about which books are most deserving of "the treatment," though some of my oddaptations aren't quite as attitudinal. I mean what can you really say about The Carrot Seed that's sarcastic and edgy?

Love You Forever, however... oh mercy.

Anonymous said...

Just when I started to weep over Dr. Suess death I was delighted to find one of your poems.

Please don't stop.


Anonymous said...

These are so fantastic. We need to see more!

Have you ever read Maurice Sendak's There Must Be More To Life Than Having Everything?

It's probably not popular enough to get an Oddaptation, but I always think of The Giving Tree and that one together.

Bkbuds said...

Oooh ... I remember Shrinklets from high school. I swear it's how I passed AP English.

Thanks for your Oddaptations. I'll come back for more.

Anonymous said...

Great! I know my librarian would love to see your Curious George "oddaptation". She hates that he always gets away with being naughty.

I think you should do Where the Wild Things Are.

Cat Herself said...

Every time I visit your blog I find more reasons to visit your blog! Excellent! Have I mentioned before that I'm a Children's Librarian?

*looks pleadingly* can I be your biggest fan?

Anonymous said...

I concur with your Giving Tree poem--that guy was a menace! I gag whenever people talk of the book with sentimental reverence. Nice play on words with "sap," by the way.

janeyolen said...

I also have done a bunch of these, and called them Crushed Classics. Like

Lord of the Rings

Give the mountain the finger.

Sam said...

"Oddaptations" made my day! I am keen to read more of these stuffs adapted from some of my favorite posts! Thanks for this, your blog is truly worthwhile.

Marinela said...

These are really great poems :)

Library Princess said...

These are too funny! I think I love the Goodnight Moon story...because after reading it a bazillion times to my own children, I often thought it was a bit creepy...I shared it with fellow librarians!

Anonymous said...

You picked two books that deserve a bit of fun poked at them. I can see how The Giving Tree can be read in two totally different ways, and the "sap" way is how I see it. I was always so jealous, as an unpublished writer, that Goodnight Moon was so popular. Always seemed kind of lame. I would stare at my kids faces as I read it, trying to ascertain what made this book so hot. I took satisfaction that it wasn't their favorite.

How about doing one on, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? That's another one way too popular.

Elizabeth Stevens Omlor said...

Love the Oddaptations! Very funny stuff and creative as well. I do think Goodnight Moon's bunny lady is quite creepy as well!

Donna B said...

I, too, love these! Can't wait to share with my class. Maybe we can do some interactive writing then have them write their own. Thanks!