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The Little Drummer Boy (Childrens Young Adult Fiction)

The Little Drummer Boy - David Mead, Chris Sharp WARNING: this review contains thinly-disguised cuss words (just be happy I'm even telling you)IntroductionSo it's Christmas time again, when this book and others like it make their annual appearance at my parents' house, for the benefit of my two nephews (6 and 5 yrs old). I gave it five stars because I like the illustrations. The rest of it is a hot philosophical mess that I don't appreciate at all.If you grew up at any point during the last forty years in a country that uses the Latin alphabet, you probably couldn't help but see the claymation television special about this kid. The story, for those of you living under rocks, is that during the whole birth of Christ, as described multiple times in the Bible... with the three wise men, the star of Bethlehem, the manger and all the rest... there was this poor little boy whose only material possession was a drum. Under somewhat hazy circumstances, he becomes part of the manger scene and plays his drum for to the pleasure of the baby Jesus. The standard lesson drawn from all this is that the drummer boy had no material wealth to offer, but he gave a gift of himself- of his time and skills- and that was more desirable to the Christ child than the gold, frankincence, and myrrh of the wisemen. (Spot gold closed at $1385.80 today, btw. In your face, Ben Bernanke.) This story presents a worthwhile lesson, sweetly told, in what may possibly be the most positive childrens' story I have ever heard. Under any other circumstances, I would be an outspoken supporter of the little drummer boy (TLDB), but for two concerns:Get the f**k out of my hagiographySo here's the thing: this story is like 95% right out of the pages of the Bible, with one important exception: there is no little drummer boy in the Bible. Go ahead and look, if you must, but I'm pretty sure most people reading this won't have to. You know I'm right. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know...) the story of the Little Drummer Boy originated in the 12th century. For most books, I would have no problem with this sort of fan literature. It happens all the time: somebody reads a book or sees a television show, and thinks to themself "Hey, that was good! I'd like to develop these characters and explore the universe this author created a little bit more." The results are not always great, but I'm okay with that. In the case of ancient religious manuscripts, I'm not okay with it, for the following reasons:1) F**king with our perceptions of the past: Once in a very long time, a new ancient text may be discovered, as happened with the Dead Sea Scrolls, but that is incredibly rare. For the most part, there is a finite number of documents connecting us to the ancient world, and we ought to revere these, and study them to better understand our past and where we came from. Whether you believe its religious content or not, the Bible is one such document. The world it describes is a world that will never be again. I don't approve of re-writing it with new jazzed-up twists, just to promote some positive social message. It's like if I rewrote [b:Agamemnon|9741696|Agememnon; Griechisch|Aeschylus|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1347248286s/9741696.jpg|1881648], but I added this surfer dude character, Chad, and he was really cool and taught everybody to be kind to animals. Then, over generations, people kind of forgot that Chad wasn't part of Aschylus's original story, and they incorporated him into their ideas about antiquity. That would be bull$**t, even if the underlying message of being kind to animals is praiseworthy.2) F**king with ancient traditional belief systems: As I stated in my review of the Bible, I'm not sure how much of it I believe. That doesn't matter. A lot of people turn to the Bible as a source of inspiration, guidence and moral instruction. It has brought hope to many in despair, in part because they either regarded it as (a) the divinely-inspired words of the Creator, or (b) a stable philosophy developed and tested over millenia, representing the collective wisdom of our ancestors. In either case, the credibility of this ancient manuscript is undermined if we become permiscuous tolerating changes to its characters or plot. I mean, how would it be if we re-wrote the New Testiment to include Superman? He stands for truth and justice. Those are good things, right? He could have adventures with Jesus, fighting Satan, and maybe using his superpowers to cure leprosy.3) It encourages $h**ty writing: The big thing I still don't get about TLDB is why he had to be written into a Bible setting to begin with. As I've already said, TLDB is a sweet story. The kid has nothing but a drum, and comes into this situation where everybody is giving fancy gifts, but he has nothing to give. So he plays the drum, and it's a simple and sincere offerring -probably more meaningful than all the extravagant presents that are changing hands around him. And it's appreciated. That's all you need. That's a perfect story. Why did the pre-existing tale of Jesus in the manger need to be carved up to provide background support? It didn't. And it doesn't. And it should not have been.The SolutionWhat to do? The LDB has been around for a while now, and has itself become something of a tradition. And let's not forget: he does promote a positive message. What is the proper response to this mess? The answer is that TLDB needs a dose of his own medicine. Somebody needs to do to him what he did to Jesus: namely to intrude into his story, and hijack it to promote a positive message. I propose that some talented author of childrens' books write a story where TLDB goes into the manger, sees baby Jesus laying there, sees the gifts from the three kings, and starts to play his drum... then Chad and Superman show up, and explain to him about what the phrase "unintended consequences" means, and why it's wrong to trespass on private propery, and why you should respect other peoples' beliefs, even if you don't share them. I think that would make for a fine claymation television special.