Saturday, August 14, 2010
Flat Stanley is a children’s book by Jeff Brown, which has been around for a long time. If you have ever taught elementary school you know all about Stanley. Seems a bulletin board fell on him and flattened him. After poor Stanley adjusts to his new flat self, he discovers that it isn’t all that bad to be flat. He can do things that a full-bodied kid can’t do. It isn’t long before he comes up with a little scheme to mail himself to exciting places. These circumstances make for a great plot line. Children love to think of being able to sneak into places covertly.
When my grandson, Jack was in the second grade, his teacher used this book to make a writing assignment interesting and had the children make a flat version of themselves. After they admired one another’s flat alter egos they mailed themselves to another city hoping that they would have a wonderful adventure to write about and ultimately make their own little books.
Jack mailed Flat Jack to San Francisco to visit Uncle Rob. It wasn’t long before I got a frantic phone call. “Mom! We lost Flat Jack! We can’t find him anywhere!” I spoke to Jack’s teacher, who happens to be a friend and an ex colleague. She said that she’d have him make another to add to the project when the pictures of the adventure were returned to school. Since time was short, Rob quickly fashioned a new Flat Jack, using a photograph of Jack’s face for the head. Now Flat Jack looked quite real. Flat, but real.
They took him for an airplane ride. They strapped him in the front seat of their plane, took his picture, and took off. Flat Jack got to fly over and take pictures of The Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and other wonderful San Francisco landmarks.
Then suddenly, horror of horrors, Flat Jack got air sick. Some disgusting paper green stuff spewed forth from his flat little mouth! (Let me tell you here that green stuff spewing from someone’s mouth is prime second grade humor.) The green stuff ended the flight.
They landed and went back to Uncle Rob’s house. There, Flat Jack played with Rob’s puppies, Mellie and Butler. Puppies, being puppies, chewed poor Flat Jack to pieces. The last photo was taken of these pieces scattered all over the floor with the dogs in the background; thus documenting the demise of poor Flat Jack.
His book was a hit, because not only do second graders like to be grossed out by barf, it appears they also enjoy canine dismemberment.