I Was a Second-Grade Editor

Guys.  This is really exciting.  I was born to be an editor.

I have been laid up with some kind of horrendous virus for the last few days, and I have taken the opportunity, when I have enough strength to hold a book, to read Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land, written and illustrated by Mr. Johnny Gruelle. This is what lit majors read when they’ve gotten their degree and are no longer have their reading schedule preordained by professors.

Just kidding, of course–my personal to-read list is staggering.  But Raggedy Ann was purchased and lovingly cradled in infirm arms for nostalgic purposes. This was the first book I had read that was the equivalent, to second grade me, to a novel.  No more “see Jane run”s for me.  I was on to the ninety-six pagers.

This particular book provides me with my memories of the first time I discovered the places books could take you. I would sit in my tiny closet and get lost in ice grottos with flavored icicles hanging from ceilings, houses where dinner was turkey-shaped cakes and cream puffs, and kitchens where you could bake kittens into life–well, animated cookie-life.

As I read it all again, I remembered all the turns of phrase and the images so well.  I must have read the book so many times because each sentence felt familiar.  I even remember evaluating the language and thinking that the word “nice,” repeated over and over throughout descriptions might seem annoying in another place, but it worked so well here.

As I read it as an adult with a degree in the subject, I thought the same thing–that if it were any other work, I would red-pen the bejeezus out of  “nice.”  But the word creates a feel for this particular book and for the characters who use the word.  For instance, in the second paragraph, there’s this: “It was quite dark, but that did not worry them for both Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy have bright little shoe button eyes. One can see very well with shoe button eyes if one is a rag doll stuffed with nice, clean, white cotton.”  The “nice”s add something warm, assuring, and good natured to the storyteller and the characters.  It’s so interesting that I knew it even when I was a miniature person–how words were shaping the general feel of what I was reading.

Tiny me had also caught a plot inconsistency then which I only remembered when I came across it near the end. In a list of some characters, there appears a gingerbread man heretofore unmentioned and never heard of again.  I immediately was like, “OH YEAH, the mysterious gingerbread man! Mr. Gruelle, how did your editor miss it if a second grader found it?”

Well, okay, to call myself a second-grade editor is a little much, I guess. But besides experiencing the wonder of reading a book I knew so well such a very long time ago, I was in wonder of how similarly I thought of the book after so much time, reading, and school.

(Although my thoughts on the gendered behaviors of Ann and Andy are much more–well, they exist, as compared to in second grade.  But that is another matter.)


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