I’ve never been a big fan of Cliffs Notes. Though the publisher calls their product “trustworthy study guides,” we all know what they’re used for 99 percent of the time. They encourage laziness, illiteracy, and all the other bad things your high school English teacher warned you about.
There was one occasion, however, that I used such a “tool” to cover for academic inadequacies. Once, in college, I was required to write a 2-page essay on Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. At the time, there were several other papers upon which I was procrastinating, so the 2-page essay — along with reading the book — fell by the wayside.
The night before it was due, I swallowed my pride and went to the library to check out the movie. Unfortunately, the library’s only copy was broken. On to Plan B — Cliffs Notes. Once again, the library came up short. What they did have, however, was a Cliffs Notes–type one page summary not of the novel, but the movie. By that time, I was grasping at straws, so I read it, and wrote my essay. I won’t reveal my grade, except to say that it wasn’t a B,C,D, or F.
All this came to mind last weekend when I noticed a peculiar book in the childrens’ book section of a major bookstore. It was one of those “Little Golden Books” and bore the title, The Cat In The Hat: The Movie.
Make no mistake, this was a book, not a movie. I opened the book and saw that it was adapted by Jesse Leon McCann, illustrated by Christopher Moroney, based on the 2003 movie, which was inspired by the 1957 book by Dr. Seuss. A book, based upon a movie, based upon an original book — a book that is still in print. I’m not making this up.
I did pretty well with my essay based on a twice-removed account of a work of literature, but I’m sure the only people doing well with nonsense like this are the publishers who “extend the brand” of the late Dr. Seuss just a little bit further. Unfortunately these guys are missing the boat. I’m waiting for the DaVinci Code Movie book. That’s where the money is.