Monday, September 14, 2009

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” - The G-rated Version

“Special Edward”
By Eric Walters
ISBN No. 978-1-55469-092-3

You have to admire a kid’s book that dares to tweenize “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” “Is Edward special or special ed?” the back of this book asks. Well, Edward is a career slacker whose passing grade at school is threatened. And like McMurphy from Cuckoo’s Nest (who avoids jail time by being declared insane and institutionalized), Ed has himself declared “special” (as in requiring special education) because the special ed kids get kid glove treatment like more time to complete tests. Edward thinks he’s found the perfect way to cheat the system but if he’d read Cuckoo’s Nest all the way through he would know that the system always wins. Kids will identify with Edward, no problem, but older readers will find lots to like here too. Part of the fun of reading this book is figuring out who’s who from Cuckoo’s Nest. For instance, Nurse Ratched becomes the middle-aged Dr. McClintock in this book (she was “attractive-for a woman that age,” Edward says) and Cuckoo’s giant Indian becomes – what else? - a big, lumbering, grade 12 kid. Thankfully, the book’s cafeteria doesn’t include anything like Kesey’s description of scrambled eggs; a vision that still haunts me two decades after reading his book.