I received this email from an eighth-grader: “Listen, I love your work, but seriously? Selling out to the state test?
“Also, before my class goes crazy, which was the wisest animal in ‘The Hare and the Pineapple’?”
You bet I sold out, I replied. Not to the Department of Education, but to the publisher of tests, useless programmed reading materials, and similar junk. All authors who are not Stephen King will sell permission to allow excerpts from their books to have all the pleasure edited out of them and used this way. You’d do the same thing if you were a writer, and didn’t know where your next pineapple was coming from.
But it did not stop with emails. I was directed to a Facebook page in which the kids griped and groaned and made some pretty funny jokes about the dumb test. And then, after 40 years of authoring, and more than 100 books, I got interviewed by all the major newspapers in New York City. About a story under my name, of which not a line was written by me, which was like a paragraph from a novel I wrote in 1998, and which had appeared on a test with unanswerable questions following.