Sunday, August 8, 2010

Yiddish With Dick And Jane: Animated Excerpt From the Basic Reader Parody

A few years ago, Ellis Weiner and Barbara Davilman wrote a parody of the classic basic reader, Fun with Dick and Jane ("See Jane.  See Spot.  See Spot run.  Run, Spot, run")  that was used in almost every elementary school from the 1930s through the 1970s.
The parody, called Yiddish with Dick and Jane, published by Little, Brown, and Company, captures the unique rhythms of the original Dick and Jane readers  In 35 all-new illustrations, a story unfolds in which the ultra-WASPish Dick and Jane manage to express shades of feeling and nuances of meaning that ordinary English just can't deliver. How? By speaking Yiddish, employing terms that convey an attitude - part plucky self-assertion, part ironic fatalism. When Dick schmoozes, when Jane kvetches, when their children fress noodles at a Chinese restaurant, the clash of cultures produces genuine hilarity.

Yiddish with Dick and Jane tells a simple story: Grandma gets sick and Dick and Jane's sister Sally visits. There are sub-plots about such ethical dilemmas as gift-giving etiquette and marital infidelity. The comedy intensifies in the glossary, which defines (with lots of chutzpah) each Yiddish term introduced in the text.

The folks at VidLit produced a video with a reading of an excerpt of the book.  It's a hilarious look at the story and will make you want to read the whole book.  Enjoy!