A Tricky Situation
Every day I post a review on my blog and every day I copy that same review onto its Amazon.com page. Before I ever started writing reviews for School Library Journal and the like I broke in my baby teeth on Amazon. Over the years my writing has improved a little and I like to look at the occasional Amazon page to see how many people have (or have not) found my thoughts useful. The danger in doing this sort of thing is that any kid that has to do a book report can lift my words and use them in a homework assignment. I like to believe that a teacher would spot this kind of thing, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.
What should I do, then, when I find my words not on a 4th grader's encapsulation of the newest Newbery winner, but instead in an Alabama newspaper?
A sharp-eyed spotter (who may remain nameless if she likes, or come out and attest to her catch-the-plagiarism skills) brought my attention to a children's librarian. She is the person responsible for writing this article not too long ago. In the piece she summarizes three children's books coming out this holiday season. One of them is Once Upon a Banana. Here's what she says about the book:
Now it is entirely possible that two people might read this book and both would come up with phrases like "pint-sized Buster Keatons", "borders on the insane", and "amazing absence of true bodily injury". However, here is my review of the book, done not too long ago. This version is not word-for-word at all times, but I'm more than a little puzzled by her editing of my work. Read the first two paragraphs of my review and then read hers. Honestly, I don't mind it if people use what I've reviewed, but I like to get a little credit for it now and then.
“Once Upon a Banana” is slapstick comedy for kids which borders on the insane. The details by illustrator David Small, coupled with the plain, good storytelling (and amazing absence of true bodily injury) make this book a kind of contemporary silent film that will have no difficulty entertaining our pint-sized Buster Keatons.
The story begins with a man and his monkey making a living on the street. The monkey suddenly takes off like a shot to sample a delicious-looking banana sitting at a grocer's stall. Eating the banana and tossing the peel causes a burly motorcyclist to crash into a ladder. That ladder, in turn, has a painter on it who falls into a shopping cart full of vegetables. The ensuing wacky chain of events leads to messy city streets and an indescribable twist of fate for the man and his monkey. Fun...fun...fun!