Monday, April 10, 2006

Books4kids...not my kids

Grandpa Squirrel often comes to the Treehouse for Sunday dinner, and he brings parts of the weekend Toronto papers along: the Books section for Mama Squirrel, and the car pages for Mr. Fixit. Saturday's Globe and Mail had a special Books4kids section, which Mama Squirrel opened with interest.

Boy, the kidlit world is changing fast.

The first review in the section is online here; it's about Val Ross's book You Can't Read This: Forbidden Books, Lost Writing, Mistranslations, and Codes. From the review:
You Can't Read This is more than just a history of banned literature. It is a glimpse into the wide panorama of the restrictions and expansions of the written word, and how it has been used as a tool to liberate and to oppress.

Writing in a warm, conversational style, Globe and Mail senior arts writer Val Ross takes us into the glories, mysteries and horrors of days gone by, as we struggled first to put stylus to papyrus, then to hide the result from those who were threatened by it.

It is very clear in this book how those with power or vested interests have always striven to keep information deemed dangerous out of the hands of people with less power -- "dangerous" meaning information that could upset the status quo, and start the masses thinking that perhaps the emperor is not wearing any clothes.
This is a book for kids?

Granted, I'm reading the review, not the book. But if one reflects the other, I'm not impressed. The climax of the review:
Of course, like all good books, You Can't Read This raises more questions than it answers. For instance, it tells of poor, insane Mary Lamb, co-author of Tales from Shakespeare, fatally plunging a carving knife into her mother just before sitting down to a roast mutton dinner, but it doesn't tell us if she finished her meal. It makes me want to find out.
And that has what to do with censorship?...
Beautifully illustrated and well documented, You Can't Read This is sure to fly off any library or bookstore shelf where it is allowed to appear.
Little joke there, I guess. Am I acting with vested interests and keeping my Squirrelings ignorant if I pass on this one?

I think not.

3 comments:

coffeemamma said...

Okay, that books sounds... just weird. Why do so many books for kids these days have to have such a negative tone?

Tim's Mom said...

It does seem like the focus has to be on the bizarre and morbid, maybe that's what it takes to hold the interest on a TV-addicted generation?

I like the new avatar, the squirrel is a nice touch. Your apparel is a marked contrast to the Apprentice's stunning gown on the red carpet!

coffeemamma said...

for some strange reason, I can only see the avatars sometimes- and I can't right now??

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