Posts filed under “Young Readers”


(Music: Western theme with banjos.)

Announcer: And now Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

(Music: Banjo roll, then sudden silence.)

Announcer: The Adventures of Silent Jim!

(Music resumes, under for…)

Announcer: Yes, it’s Silent Jim, the man of few words but mighty deeds, protecting the innocent from evildoers in the Wild West!

(Music: Fade.)

Announcer: As our story opens today, we find Silent Jim stepping up to the bar at Malenkov’s Saloon in Heatstroke City, Arizona.

Bartender: Wal, howdy, Silent Jim! Long time no see! What’ll it be today?

Silent Jim:

Bartender: Cain’t decide, huh? I know how that is. Look at all them bottles. How’s a man s’posed to pick one? Tell ya what. How ’bout I make you a Heatstroke City Steamer? Specialty of the house!

Silent Jim:

Bartender: Yeah, that’ll hit the spot.

(Sound: Glass and bottles clanking, continues under…)

Bartender: So rumor has it you larned them Clancy boys a real good lesson up there in Buchanan Station. That true?

Silent Jim:

Bartender: They sure as enfers deserved it, if’n you’ll pardon my French. Guess they larned the Wild West is a place where you gotta follow the rules. —Here ya go, Silent Jim. Compliments of the house. So what’s next in your life of epic adventure and constant he-man action?

Silent Jim:

Bartender: Wal, I reckon Heatstroke City could use your help right now. We been—

(Music: Stinger.)

B. B. Clancy: Thar’s that ugly cuss now, or my name ain’t Babblin’ Bob Clancy!

Bartender: Why, it’s Babblin’ Bob Clancy, the garrulousest outlaw in the Arizona Territory, and second cousin twice removed to the Clancy boys!

B. B. Clancy: Dang right it’s Babblin’ Bob Clancy, which is what my ma done called me soon as I started to talk, and all my aunts called me that too, cause I had scads of aunts, and they used to say to Ma, they said, ‘How’s Babblin’ Bob doin’ these days?’ and Ma used to say, ‘Lawd-a-mercy, sis, he’s garrulouser than ever,’ and then she’d smack me one, but I was still talkin’, and I ain’t done talkin’ yet, neither, that’s fer dang sure! Now I hear my cousins done run into trouble with this ornery devil, and I says to myself, I says, ‘Babblin’ Bob, family is family, no matter how many times they been removed, and you gotta stick up fer family, that’s what you gotta do.’ So what have you got to say fer yerself, Silent Jim?

Silent Jim:

B. B. Clancy: Oh, a wise guy! A reg’lar Aristotle! Well, let me tell you, Silent Jim, when I’ve took care of you, you ain’t gonna be so wise no more. You ain’t even gonna be Mortimer Adler. You’re gonna be like the third-dimmest kid in the freshman Introduction to Western Philosophy class, that’s what you’re gonna be. You’re gonna be like that kid where they say, ‘What’s the difference between Epictetus and Epicurus?’ and you get it all backwards, and you say it’s Epictetus what was all about ataraxia, and even if you gets it right you’ll be one of them dang fools what think it’s all about do what feels good, and you’ll totally miss the point of Epicureanism, when everybody knows it’s all about bein’ rational and suchlike. Cause the pleasures of the mind are way superior to the pleasures of the body, and you gotta be dumb as a jackass full o’ Monongahela rye not to see that catastematic pleasure is the real thing. Criminy, how often do these dang fools have to have it explained to them? It’s like their brains are made of tapioca. Say, what was we talkin’ about?

Silent Jim:

B. B. Clancy: Aw, you ain’t no help. Say, bartender, how ’bout one o’ them Heatstroke City Steamers everybody’s ravin’ about? I ain’t much for mixed drinks myself, but them things got a reputation right acrost the territory. Gimme a double. Or maybe a one-and-a-half, cause I gotta ride to Ten-Foot Pole afore sunset. Whatcha drinkin’, stranger? Can I buy you another one?

Silent Jim:

B. B. Clancy: Two Steamers, bartender, and put a head on ’em, or whipped cream or whatever. My ma always said, she said, if’n you’re gonna do it, Babblin’ Bob, she said, then do it all the way. (Fading out.) That’s what she said. So I always done it all the way, cause my ma ain’t never steered me wrong, and…

(Music: Western banjo theme, in and under for…)

Announcer: And so once again Silent Jim lives by his motto, Facta non verba, and tames the Wild West. Tune in next week for more shimmering dialogue and sparkling wit. Till then, kids, don’t be silent when it comes to what’s important. Remember that kids who drink Malt-O-Cod every day are 53% more likely to become world-renowned philosophers than the control group given only inferior fish-liver-flavored malt food drinks. Don’t risk your mind on cheap imitations. Badger your parents for more Malt-O-Cod today. It’s the malt food drink that’s brain food!

(Music: In full, then out.)


Announcer. And now Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

(Music: Fanfare)

Announcer. The Adventures of Sir Montague Blastoff, Interplanetary Space Dragoon!

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

Announcer. As you remember, last week we left Sir Montague and Colonel Darling at the very edge of the universe. This week, they’re still there, about to become the first human beings ever to travel outside the universe and into the void!

Col. Darling. But, Monty, how can the universe even have an edge?

Sir Montague. Everything has an edge, my dear.

Col. Darling. But I thought the universe was, you know, everything.

Sir Montague. Yes, exactly. And the edge of the universe is the boundary between everything and nothing. Just think of it, Colonel: we’ll be the first human beings to see everything from the outside.

Col. Darling. But if we take our ship into the nothing…

Sir Montague. Which of course we shall do without flinching.

Col. Darling. Of course. I mean, I don’t even know the meaning of the word “flinch.”

Sir Montague. That’s the spirit, old girl.

Col. Darling. No, I mean really. Is it some kind of bird? That’s the best I can figure. Did you bring your dictionary with you?

Sir Montague. I’m afraid it’s back in the office.

Col. Darling. But what’s outside the universe?

Sir Montague. Nothing, my dear. Everything that’s something is part of the universe. We’ll be going into a complete void.

Col. Darling. But if we go into the nothing, won’t we be something?

Sir Montague. Don’t overthink it, my dear. You’ll give the writers heartburn. Are you ready to enter the void?

Col. Darling. Ready for anything with you by my side, Monty!

Sir Montague. Jolly Good! Then here we go.

(Sound: Silence.)

Col. Darling. Well, that was anticlimactic. Now what?

Sir Montague. Now we travel some distance outside the universe and turn around to get some good pictures. Did you bring your Brownie?

Col. Darling. Of course. But if I took a picture out here, wouldn’t it just look like I left the lens cap on? —But wait a minute, Monty! What’s that up ahead?

Sir Montague. I have no idea. I thought there was nothing here, but… It looks like some sort of large building. Or perhaps a sort of interconnected complex of buildings.

Col. Darling. Look, Monty! It’s Ganymede Mall! You remember, it used to be the hottest shopping center on Ganymede, but it closed years ago when I was a teenager! I mean, not that I’m not still a teenager, but…

Sir Montague. I say, Colonel, there’s another one beyond it!

Col. Darling. It’s the Tethys Galleria! That one just closed a year ago! And there’s another one over there that says “Century III”! And another one after that! Why, there must be hundreds of them stretching into the void!

Sir Montague. But you see what this means, don’t you, Colonel? We’ve finally solved the mystery of what happens to shopping malls when they die!

Col. Darling. It’s kind of creepy. Don’t you think we should be turning around?

Sir Montague. Certainly not! We can’t miss this opportunity to explore a real live dead mall. Brace for docking, Colonel!

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

Announcer. Will Sir Montague and Colonel Darling survive the utter emptiness that is an abandoned shopping mall? Don’t miss next week’s exciting episode: Void after Thirty Days! Till then, kids, remember that children who drink Malt-O-Cod daily are 37% less likely to succumb to existential despair before they’re sixteen. And right now, for a limited time only, in honor of Sir Montague’s trip past the edge of the universe, you’ll find nothing in specially marked packages—absolutely free! So don’t forget to make your parents’ lives miserable until they cough up a lousy three bucks for a jar of delicious Malt-O-Cod. It’s the malt food drink that’s brain food!

(Music: In full, then out.)


Announcer. And now Malt-O-Cod, the only malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

[Music: Theme, in and under for…]

Announcer. The Adventures of Sir Montague Blastoff, Interplanetary Space Dragoon!

[Music: Fade.]

Announcer. Today we find Sir Montague and Colonel Darling about to embark on what may be the most extraordinary adventure of their lives.

Sir Montague. I say, my dear, are you ready to embark on what may be the most extraordinary adventure of our lives?

Col. Darling. You know I’m always ready for anything when I’m with you, Monty.

Sir Montague. And that’s jolly decent of you, I must say. If our experiment succeeds today, there’ll be a bally great load of paperwork, and I can always rely on you to push a pen. It’s just through here—we’ve repurposed our temporal displacement chamber as a dimensional threshold overlap zone.

Col. Darling. How thrilling!

Sir Montague. Now, if the boffins have got their figures figured, ourselves from the alternate universe should be along any moment now.

Sir Montague (distant). I zay! There we are!

Col. Darling. Look, Monty! It’s us from the alternate universe, just like the scientists said!

Sir Montague. And we don’t look a bit different. So perhaps the alternate universe is exactly like ours, after all.—I say, you two, are you really us from the alternate universe?

Sir Montague (approaching). Jolly amusing goinzindenze. I was aboud do azg you the zame gwezdion.

Col. Darling. Alternate-universe you talks funny, Monty!

Col. Darling. I mighd zay the zame aboud you.

Sir Montague. Id abbears thad zome gonzonands thad are voized in our univerze are voizelezz in yours.

Sir Montague. A curious difference. Otherwise we seem quite identical.

Sir Montague (distant). Ooklay, Olonelcay! Erethay eway arehay!

Colonel Darling. Look, Monty! It’s another pair of usses!

Sir Montague. I say, are you two also from an alternate universe?

Col. Darling (approaching). Istenlay, Ontymay! Eythay eakspay Igpay Atinlay!

Sir Montague (distant). Howdy, y’all!

Col. Darling. Loog, Mondy! Dwo more uzzez!

Col. Darling. Gosh, Monty! There must be a lot more alternate universes than we thought!

Announcer. How many more alternate universes are waiting for our intrepid pair to discover? Will the repurposed temporal displacement chamber be big enough to handle all the Sir Montagues and Colonel Darlings meeting there? Don’t miss the next thrilling episode in the Adventures of Sir Montague Blastoff, Interplanetary Space Dragoon!

[Music: Theme, in and under for…]

Announcer. Kids, no matter how you say it, when you crave the rich, satisfying flavor of malt, together with the rich, satisfying flavor of cod-liver oil, there’s only one drink you want. All the others have been suppressed by the FDA. So remember that name: Malt-O-Cod, now with the pocket edition of Burnham’s English Dialect Dictionary in specially marked packages. Malt-O-Cod—the malt food drink that’s brain food!

[Music: In full, then out.]


From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children
Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.

Once there was a woman who lived on a farm in the country, and she was just about like all the other farmers’ wives around her, neither more beautiful nor uglier, neither richer nor poorer, neither more nor less fortunate, and neither happier nor more discontented with her lot. This woman had a friend who was a fairy, which is more common in the country than city folk imagine, and when it came time for our farmer’s wife to give birth to her first child, she naturally invited her friend the fairy to her lying-in.

All went as well as could be expected, and the woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Immediately the fairy snatched the child into her arms and said to the mother, “Choose now whether your daughter shall have beauty greater than any other woman’s, with wit and understanding greater than her beauty, and be the empress and autocrat of an immense country, but unhappy; or whether she shall be the ugliest creature in seven counties, with only so much intelligence as she needs to keep her from falling down a well, and with just enough in the way of possessions to keep body and soul together, but contented.”

The farmer’s wife, still recovering from her labor, answered slowly. “It is a hard decision. You say she would be empress with unlimited authority?”

“Unlimited,” the fairy answered.

“And the most beautiful woman on earth?”

“None would surpass her,” said the fairy.

“Or ugly?”


“And poor?”

“Just barely able to feed herself.”

“And to be contented she has to be ugly and poor, but to be exalted and beautiful she has to be miserable?”

“Yes, that is the alternative.”

“Well, what if, instead of an empress, she were, say, prime minister of a prosperous medium-sized republic? Would she still have to be unhappy?”

The fairy thought for a moment. “I suppose that, in return for a diminution of her autocratic powers, she might be allowed a few moments of happiness every so often. Not too much, you know, because prime minister is still a pretty big prize.”

“And suppose, say, she were not quite so beautiful: suppose, I mean, she were only the second-most-beautiful woman in the world, or possibly the third.”

“A few rays of happiness might shine into her life,” the fairy reluctantly admitted, “in return for the sacrifice of some of her beauty.”

“Or suppose I chose ugliness and poverty, but instead of absolute contentment, she always wished she had practiced the piano more assiduously. Would she have to be quite so unfortunate then?”

“A small but gnawing regret might gain a little less ugliness and a little more prosperity, I suppose,” said the fairy.

“Or suppose I chose beauty and prosperity, but, instead of prime minister, she were, say, a county commissioner, in a large and prosperous county of course.”

“I dare say the drop from prime minister to county commissioner would purchase several days of happiness.”

And so the conversation went, while the child patiently waited (for the issue of happiness or discontent for her had not yet been decided), until at last the mother and the fairy had reached an arrangement much less extreme than the one the fairy had originally proposed.

So the girl grew up into a woman, and she was not exceptionally beautiful, but not really what you would call ugly, and in spite of a receding chin could actually be quite attractive in certain lights; and she was not by any means rich, but not really poor either, and she was able to support herself and her family when it arrived; and she was not a great wit, but not stupid, and her intellect was adequate to most of the tasks demanded of it; and she had her share of misfortunes and disappointments, but she managed to get through them somehow, and her life was enlivened by moments of sincere delight. In short she was just like the rest of us; for it turns out that most mothers have fairies for friends, and they all end up making more or less the same deal.


No. 1. The Bee.

Behold the little honeybee,
    So busy at his task!
Now, isn’t he a funny bee?
    He never stops to ask,
“Just where can all the money be
    In service to the hive?”
I guess this little sunny bee
    Must be about the biggest dope alive.


From Dr. Boli’s Fables for Children Who Are Too Old to Believe in Fables.


Once there was a boy who had a keen pair of eyes and a particularly loud and piercing voice, so he was employed by a syndicate of sheep-owners to watch over their flock. “And if you see a wolf among the sheep,” the leader of the syndicate told him, “you shout ‘Wolf! Wolf!’ at the top of your lungs.”

The boy solemnly swore that he would keep a careful eye out and warn everyone the moment he saw a wolf, and he went to work watching the sheep with unflagging vigilance.

He had been watching most of the afternoon with nothing to report, when suddenly a wolf sprang out of the underbrush and, to his horror, began devouring one of the sheep.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried at the top of his lungs.

Immediately the leader of the syndicate came running.

“Look here, boy,” he said sternly, as the wolf continued his meal, “what are you trying to do? Do you want the whole village to think we don’t know how to take care of our sheep?”

“But the wolf is eating them!”

“That’s no excuse for such an unseemly ruckus. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” And the leader of the syndicate turned and walked away, leaving the wolf to eat mutton until he was satisfied.

The next day the boy was in position again, and once again the wolf leaped out of the brush and began tearing a sheep to pieces.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried in his piercing soprano.

The leader of the syndicate came running even faster than he had the previous day.

“Now, what did I tell you?” he demanded angrily. “You’re making the whole village think there are wolves about! Do you think that makes them feel secure?”

“But the wolf is right there,” the boy explained.

“I don’t want to be bothered with details! Now, not another peep from you, or there will be serious consequences.” And he turned and stomped away angrily, once again leaving the wolf to eat sheep until he could eat no more.

The next day, the boy was in his place, and once again the wolf leaped out of the shrubbery and began gobbling up sheep.

The boy was not at all certain what to do. He seriously considered just letting the wolf go about his business unmolested. But in the end he remembered that he had sworn a solemn oath to watch over the sheep, and he did what he knew was his duty.

“Wolf! Wolf!” the boy cried.

This time the leader of the syndicate simply called the police and had the boy arrested, and he is now serving six years in juvenile detention for disturbing the peace.

The wolf, meanwhile, ate all the sheep at his leisure; but the members of the syndicate decided that they had never liked sheep very much and were better off without them.

Moral: A comfortable lie beats immoderate truth any old day.


Although no recordings of the old Captain Pleonasm radio serial have survived, a number of the original scripts were recently unearthed in the archives of the Northern Broadcasting Company.

ANNOUNCER. Malt-O-Cod, the delicious and nutritious malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…

(Music: Theme, up and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. The Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy! Featuring the musical stylings of James Levine and His All-Girl Orchestra.

(Music: In full, then fade.)

ANNOUNCER. As you recall, Captain Pleonasm and Interjection Boy had just foiled the serial phone prankster who bedeviled the offices of the Consolidated Electric Automation Corporation, and as a reward were being given a tour of the research department by the company’s chief scientist, Doctor Gertrude von Dribling.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. This small machine or device seems to be a marvel of mechanical intricacy and complexity.

DR. VON DRIBLING. That’s a stapler. But over here we have a prototype of the world’s first four-dimensional printer, which not only prints objects in three dimensions but also takes time to do it.

INTERJECTION BOY. Great gabbling ganders, Doctor von Dribling! That’s amazing!

DR. VON DRIBLING. We’re very proud of it. And over here is our improved atonal player piano, which cannot be made to play a melody no matter what roll is loaded in the mechanism.

(Sound: Cacophonous jangling random piano.)

CAPATAIN PLEONASM (shouting): A remarkable and extraordinary instrument!

DR. VON DRIBLING (shouting). Very popular in conservatories!

(Sound: Piano stops.)

DR. VON DRIBLING. And here is—

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. What is in that room or chamber beyond the glass wall or partition there? And what is that curious and peculiar machine therein that resembles a six-foot thimble on wheels?

(Music: Stinger.)

INTERJECTION BOY. Jeepers, Captain Pleonasm! Did you hear that brassy dissonant chord?

DR. VON DRIBLING. Ah! That is our literary automation department, where we are developing the latest in electrical editing technology. Come through this door and I’ll show you.

(Sound: Footsteps.)

DR. VON DRIBLING. Here we are. In here we are creating the editor of the future. Never frustrated, never tired, and always completely dispassionate in its pursuit of efficiency in communication: we call it a Brevitron.

(Music: Stinger.)

INTERJECTION BOY. Wobblin’ wallabies, Captain Pleonasm! There’s that brassy dissonant chord again.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Let me demonstrate it for you.

BREVITRON (tinny monotone voice). Active.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Brevitron, explain the principles of good style in speech and writing.

BREVITRON. Speak to the point. Use short sentences. Avoid needless repetition. Choose simple words. Passive voice is not recommended.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Hmmm… It may need a little adjustment there, but you see the principle.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It seems to me that these recommendations and suggestions, while well suited to children and young persons, may be too simplistic or unsophisticated for such speakers as have reached a state of adulthood and maturity, and whose——

(Sound: Electrical ZAP.)

BREVITRON. Avoid needless repetition.

INTERJECTION BOY. Jigglin’ jellyfish, Doctor von Dribling! What just happened?

DR. VON DRIBLING. The Brevitron is equipped with an up-to-date interrupto ray to assist it in improving the speech patterns of our clients.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It is a rather unpleasant feeling or sensation.

DR. VON DRIBLING. The tingling passes in a few minutes.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Nevertheless, an educated interlocutor might posit that—


BREVITRON. Choose simple words.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. I mean that it might be asked wheth—


BREVITRON. Passive voice is not recommended.

DR. VON DRIBLING. I think the settings may be a little too sensitive, which of course is one of the adjustments we can make when we—


BREVITRON. Use short sentences.

INTERJECTION BOY. Great bouncing bobcats, Capt—


BREVITRON. Speak to the point.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. This machine or de— (ZAP) would appear to be a menace or (ZAP) to the public and (ZAP) at large.

BREVITRON. Avoid needless repetition. Choose simple words.

DR. VON DRIBLING. It’s not supposed to act like that.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Perhaps its algorithms or (ZAP) may be (ZAP) of a sudden (ZAP) or adjust— (ZAP)

BREVITRON (droning continuously throughout). Avoid needless repetition. Use short sentences. Choose simple words. Speak to the point. Passive voice is not recommended.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. Flee and (ZAP), Interjection Boy! (ZAP) and retreat to the security and (ZAP) of the outer chamber or (ZAP)!

INTERJECTION BOY. Gallopin’ (ZAP), Captain Pleonasm!

(Sound: Brevitron zapping and making pronouncements, confused footsteps; then door slamming and silence.)

DR. VON DRIBLING (breathless). My apologies, Captain Pleonasm. Something about the way you talk seems to have affected the programming.

INTERJECTION BOY. Mutterin’ meerkats, Doctor von Dribling! Can that thing get out of there?

DR. VON DRIBLING. It shouldn’t be strong enough to break through the Plexiglas by itself.

INTERJECTION BOY Golly! It’s got arms! I didn’t know there were arms inside that tin can.

DR. VON DRIBLING. Naturally we gave it extensible arms, so that it could manipulate a red pencil.

CAPTAIN PLEONASM. It has removed three casters or wheels from that shelf, and it appears to be attaching them to that metal plate or panel. In your opinion, Doctor von Dribling, based on your considered judgment, what is it doing?

DR. VON DRIBLING. I don’t know. Now it appears to be bolting that large cylinder onto the wheeled panel.

INTERJECTION BOY. Holy kippered herring in mustard sauce, Captain Pleonasm! It’s building another Brevitron!

(Music: Stinger.)

ANNOUNCER. Will Captain Pleonasm be able to save the world from a plague of Brevitrons? Will the tingling sensation in his chest and larynx ever go away? Don’t miss next week’s riveting episode of the Thrilling and Exciting Adventures of Captain Pleonasm and His Faithful and Trustworthy Sidekick and Assistant, Interjection Boy!

(Music: Theme, in and under for…)

ANNOUNCER. Kids, when it comes to the rich, satisfying flavor of Malt-O-Cod, you can’t use too many words. It’s delicious, nutritious, and—never mind what you hear from those goons at the FDA—not a bit pernicious. Don’t forget to whine and fuss until your parents buy you Malt-O-Cod, the malt food drink that’s brain food.

(Music: in full, then out.)


UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS to find the secret word, and of course if you want to cheat you may use the clues provided.

1. Health resorts for the well-to-do.
SSAP = _ _ _ _

2. Hapless fools; usually preceded by “poor.”
SSAP = _ _ _ _

3. A gap between peaks, affording travelers a route through the mountains.
SSAP = _ _ _ _

4. Venomous snakes, of which Cleopatra was rather too fond.
SSAP = _ _ _ _