You’re nonsensical writer if you sell a nonsensical short story to an educational testing board that turns it into a nonsensical multiple choice question for an eighth grade English exam. Something that Daniel Pinkwater, a popular children book author, is finding out this week as the state commissioner for the New York State Department pulls the “Pineapple Has No Sleeves” story out of the standardized test.
The crux of the passage is that the pineapple challenges the hare to a race, and the other animals are convinced the pineapple must have a trick up its sleeve and will win. When the pineapple stands still, the animals eat it. The moral of the story: “Pineapples don’t have sleeves.”
One of the disputed questions asked, essentially, which was the wisest animal. Some students said that none of the animals seemed very bright, but that a likely answer was the owl, because it was the one that uttered the moral.
Others worried that the owl was a distraction, because owls are supposed to be wise, so it would be the wrong answer.
The other tough question was why the animals ate the pineapple. Students were torn between two of the four choices: they were annoyed or they were hungry; either one seemed to work.
As Daniel Pinkwater mentions on his website:
OK, here is the deal. There are these companies that make up tests and various reading materials, and sell them to state departments of education for vast sums of money. One of the things they do is purchase rights from authors to use excerpts from books. For these they pay the authors non-vast sums of money. Then they edit the passages according to….I have no idea what perceived requirements.
The moral of this story: kids are smarter than adults when it comes to critical thinking skills, especially when a sleeveless pineapple gets involve.