Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Scholastic Fest postscript:
A book that didn't make the cut

While putting together last month's Scholastic Fest, in which the top-ranked book, as decided by me, was Lost Race of Mars, I did encounter a small handful of books that were clunkers.

And this was the biggest clunker, with its scary-awful illustration and scary-awful theme.

I have no idea how a book titled 4 Desperate Days, with a cover showing children being bound and kidnapped, would be of interest to schoolchildren. I rather think it would give them (and their parents) nightmares.

But child-kidnapping is indeed the plot of this 1974 Scholastic Book Services paperback by Richard Parker. The original title was apparently Three By Mistake, which isn't much better. The blurb on the back of the books begins:
"Run, Simon! Get help!" shouts Neil as the kidnappers drag him away.
Well, doesn't that just sound like barrels of fun?

And it wasn't just books. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a spate of movies — Savannah Smiles, The Little Dragons and No Deposit, No Return come to mind — that turned child abduction into wacky cinema fun. Maybe it was the real-life Atlanta Child Murders and/or the Adam Walsh case that started to slow down that rush of screenplays.

Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, I wouldn't have bothered bringing up 4 Desperate Days if I didn't have a few other related notes to bring to the table.

1. This copy has a non-ironic unicorn-and-rainbow bookplate indicating that it once belonged to a girl named Cheryl.

2. It was awarded "Compliments of the Hopewell Junior High P.T.S.A. - R.I.F."

3. Richard Parker, the author of 4 Desperate Days, also penned one of the Scholastic books that I have the fondest memories of, 1971's M for Mischief.

That book involves a group of children finding a mysterious old oven and cookbook and having some magical adventures. No abductions needed!

If I still had a copy, it would have easily made it into the top five of last month's countdown. It's far, far better than a book featuring this guy...

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