Post by D B Davis
Two things about your story in regards to Asimov's story are
remarkable. First, that your school exposed you to Asimov at the young
age of eight. And second, that you remember your struggle to comprehend
the storied future.
Yes, thank you! And sorry for my delay.
Here's what I posted years ago, about the textbook that "The Fun They Had" was in.
The book is called "Joys and Journeys." (Do please click on the Gutenberg link, way down - it's even more amazing, IMO, that 8-year-olds would have been expected to read Jean Lang's version of any Greek myth!)
"Rococo Skates," by Marjorie Fischer, 1936, "Spelling Bee
Blues" (about a Chinese-Filipino girl, Donna, who has mixed feelings
about doing well in an American school's spelling bee), by Laurene
Chinn, and a story about a servant boy - Dasan - who saves a woman's
diamonds (her name is Amma) from being stolen by hiding them in a
Mystery Guest at Left End by Beman Lord, 1964
The Horse That Played Centerfield by Hal Higdon, 1968
The story of Daedalus and Icarus, with almost no dialogue - pretty
long and sophisticated
Beneath the Saddle by Russell Gordon Carter, 1936 (American Revolution
A story about fences and cattle ranches in Texas
In a story about a preteen dogwalker, he outsources his jobs to
younger kids. The story starts off with his reminding one such kid to
split the profits with him - in this case, candy given by a client.
Later, a black mother (there was an illustration) comes in with her
kid - another "employee" - and yells at the dogwalker because her
kid's pants got ripped and ruined due to the kid's walking two
incompatible dogs at the same time. She orders him to pay for the
pants and he does, even though he'd warned the kid not to walk those
dogs together. Later, the dogwalker takes up snow shoveling.
The story of Hepzibah Gray, a real(?) 17th-century four-year-old who
saved her mother from a home invasion
In "The Punk," (the title refers to the narrator's despised younger
brother) the parents say, mysteriously, they have "special shopping"
to do, so they ruin the boy's afternoon plans by leaving the "punk"
with him. Naturally being in a bad mood, when he catches his brother
trying to hide something, he suspects him of messing with his property
or some such, but when he yanks it away from his little brother and
opens it, he realizes that it's a present from "the punk" to him,
since his birthday is coming soon. I remember that at one point, he
calls the younger brother "my fine-feathered friend."
Some weeks later:
I have "Joys and Journeys" with me on the table.
Besides Professor Marjorie Seddon Johnson, the other editors are Roy
Kress, John D. McNeil, and Pose Lamb. The glamorous cover, with a
decorated elephant, is by Caldecott Medalist Ed Young. See here:
What makes it more than a nostalgia item for those who've read it,
IMO, is that even though it was published in 1968, the first story is
"Mystery Guest at Left End," which is about a preteen girl who's
coaxed to play - in disguise - on a boy's touch football team, since
the captain is desperate for a terrific left end, which she is.
(And...there are no adults involved!) After all, when one thinks of
second-wave American feminism, one tends to think of the 1970s, not
"The Silver Rattle" is by Vrinda Kumble. "The Horse that Played the
Outfield" is by William Heuman. "The Punk" is by the prolific Charles
I. Coombs. "First Flight" (about Daedalus and Icarus) is retold by
Jean Lang (from 1914). You can read that here - it's wonderful:
Scroll down about halfway to page 181.
(The "Joys and Journeys" edition cut out the first four and the last four
The tall story about fences and cattle ranches in Texas and the
dogwalker story "It's a Tough Life" are by William D. Hayes. I'd
assumed, before rereading the latter, that the kid is just a preteen
mercenary, but I found out he's actually trying to run a business so
he can help with his and his mother's food bill, since she counts on
him to do that...AND take her to the movies every week!!! He does
this quite matter-of-factly. Granted, this was probably written much
earlier than 1968, when working-class preteens, especially, WERE
expected to start helping with financial necessities, but can you
imagine any kid you've ever known going so far as to buy his mother
luxuries without being asked to do so, what with all the work it
takes? I think in real life, most kids would ask to keep the extra
money for themselves, since they were already helping with the food
Other features I'd forgotten about are: A chapter from Ruth Sawyer's
"Roller Skates," "Elephant Ears" by Ruth Holberg, about a Finnish boy
and a new pastry, the Papuan "Storm on the Lake" by 2 authors - both
Neelands - and the poem "The Song of Lafitte" by Kathryn Hitte - about
the pirate Jean Lafitte.