It's been a while since I've thought about the consequences of authors who were not mystery writers trying their hand at crime fiction. This time, I'm giving some consideration to several authors of children's books and what would have happened if they had gone off in a different direction.
Charlotte's Web of Deceit, by E. B. White - Charlotte's Web meets Animal Farm in this dystopian thriller in which some animals are more equal than others. Feigning friendship with Wilbur, a pig committed to overthrowing the carnivorous regime of the evil Zuckerman (no relation to Philip Roth), Charlotte uses her skills as a computer hacker to intercept the coded messages that members of the resistance transmit to each other over the world wide web. At first unable to accept that Charlotte could be responsible for such acts of betrayal, Wilbur accuses his friend Templeton of being the mole who ratted him out. While in solitary confinement - and only hours before his execution - Wilbur is visited by Fern, Zuckerman's secretly vegan niece, who sets Wilbur straight both about Charlotte's deception and Templeton's loyalty as she and Templeton help him escape from the pen(itentiary) only to face additional dangers as he runs off into the woods in search of other members of the resistance, ultimately finding sanctuary at a food co-op in Berkeley.
Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss- The dangers of consuming genetically engineered food are explored in this political thriller. In an attempt to modify healthy foods such as broccoli and spinach so that they will be more appealing to children, Rutgers food sciences professor Dr. Samuel Iam colaborates with faculty members in the psychology department to learn more about consumer preferences. Things go horribly wrong when a jealous faculty colleague tampers with the test results.
Click Clack Bam - Cows that Kill, by Doreen Cronin - Tired of substandard working conditions, the cows of Brown's Farm are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. After initiating a strike that totally shuts down the production of milk, Farmer Brown, in a scene reminiscent of "The Silence of the Lambs," kills and eats one of the recalcitrant cows. Not long afterward, Farmer Brown begins to manifest startling neurological symptoms. It is up to Dr. Drake, considered a quack by many, to solve this medical mystery.
Go the F**k to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach - After several break-ins by an unknown intruder at the Bear residence have resulted in considerable property damage to their home furnishings, young Baby Bear becomes consumed by anxiety over the prospect of a future encounter with the tresspasser which causes him to lose his ability to hibernate through the winter. After a neighbor overhears Papa Bear telling his son to "go the f**k to sleep," she calls social services and Baby Bear is placed in foster care. A heart rending legal battle ensues as the Bears struggle to regain custody of their son. This novel also offers a strong indictment of a police force that is unable to provide a basic level of safety for this extremely rural neighborhood.
Postscript: I usually begin working on my blog posts three or four days in advance; such was the case this past Wednesday when I came up with my alternate version of Green Eggs and Ham. However, in my original version, the bad guy was not a jealous colleague but a mentally deranged graduate student. On Friday, I realized that this would need to be changed so as not to offend anybody and have it appear as though I was trying for a cheap laugh in the wake of recent events in Colorado. Fortunately, I was able to make the needed changes within a matter of seconds and no one would have been the wiser had I not decided to share this with you.
My point? Sometimes, through the fault of nobody, awful coincidences do happen and circumstances may not always allow for an easy fix, so perhaps a little restaint is advisable before rushing to judgement regarding someone else's seeming insensitivity.
Like everyone else, I am saddened and sickened by recent events and will briefly get on my soap box to make a call for increased levels of gun control in the US. However,what is also needed is a call for much more money to be spent on research into the causes of mental illness and for the development of more effective treatments for those who are so afflicted. Had guns not been available to this highly disturbed and dysfunctional individual, it is highly likely that he would have found some other way to wreak equivalent havoc. Gun control is only a part of the answer.