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Author Topic: Politically charged children's books
jrose
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Babbler # 13401

posted 13 July 2007 06:45 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I guess I wasn't a progressive enough thinker as a child, but I had no idea that the Lorax was infact a tale of environmental justice. I mean, I knew this little guy really liked trees, and was trying to save them, but I'd never actually given the book or movie much thought, as far as its role in teaching children environmentalism. Now I'm wondering what other children's books I read, and missed the political mandate or social message of.

It was even banned in some part of the United States, for being an allegorical political commentary.

Excuse my quoting of Wikipedia, since I usually avoid it, but I thought this was interesting:

quote:
The Lorax is arguably Seuss' most controversial work, having been banned in some schools and libraries for its anti-forestry industry content.[4] Several timber industry groups sponsored the creation of a book called The Truax, [5] offering a logging-friendly perspective to an anthropomorphic tree known as the Guardbark. Just as in The Lorax, the book consists of an argument between two persons. The logging industry representative emphasises their efficiency and re-seeding efforts whereas the Guardbark, a straw man of the environmentalist movement much like the Once-ler is for big business, refuses to listen and repeatedly lashes out.

The line "I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie" was removed in 1974 following the clean-up of Lake Erie.[6]



From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
quelar
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Babbler # 2739

posted 13 July 2007 07:58 AM      Profile for quelar     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well one book series that has been given lots of attention but not for that reason is the Harry Potter Books

*** WARNING - MILD SPOILER AHEAD ***

In some of the later books Harry and his underground group of friends actively work against the government and the establishment. I found this to be very interesting as it's teaching kids realy not to trust authority all the time. It's a great message but everyones after them over the witchcraft piece, so the anti-establishment thread gets lost in the shuffle.


From: In Dig Nation | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 13 July 2007 10:06 AM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The bad guys in Harry Potter are quasi-nazis. They call others "mudbloods" because they are of mixed descent. As well, the bad guys are generally Aryan-nation looking.
From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jabberwock
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posted 13 July 2007 01:13 PM      Profile for Jabberwock     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
(Mild spoiler if you haven't read all the books) The thing I love about Harry Potter is that it shows that evil does not always show up in a cape with glowing eyes. It comes in the most banal forms- in fact these forms (the Dursleys and Dolores Umbridge)are in many ways harder to fight then the standard villains.
I am sure I will also be born out in my prediction that Snape, despite being an asshole, will turn out to be loyal to the Order of the Phoenix.

I think all of Seuss' books had messages that may have been considered political at the time of publishing, since his books advocate for equality and cooperation and against bigotry.


From: Vancouver | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged
Ken Burch
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posted 13 July 2007 03:38 PM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've just been reading HOME IS A PLACE CALLED NOWHERE, by Leon Rosselson. It's a story about a young refugee girl in Britain finding out where she arrived from and dealing with the anti-refugee hatred in that country(not that we have ANYTHING like that in the States, of course ).

I'd strongly recommend it.


From: A seedy truckstop on the Information Superhighway | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
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posted 13 July 2007 06:26 PM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sounds good. I know him as a singer/songwriter. He wrote "The World Turned Upside Down" about the Diggers (the originals).
From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
jrose
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posted 16 July 2007 11:20 AM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There are actually quite a few lists out there in the world of the internet about children's books that have been banned, both in the past, and currently. Harry Potter, anyone?
From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
torontoprofessor
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posted 16 July 2007 02:29 PM      Profile for torontoprofessor     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We should be careful what we mean by "banned".

1. "Banned" could mean "made illegal by the governing authorities to own or distribute." In this sense, certain kinds of pornography are banned in many countries as are certain kinds of hate literature.

2. Sometimes people say that a book was "banned" by a certain library or bookstore if that library or bookstore decided not to carry that book for political reasons. Similarly, people sometimes say that a book was "banned" by a school board, if the school board decided, for political reasons, not to teach the book or to make it available to its students. If a book is banned in the second sense, then people can, of course, legally own and distribute the book.

I assume that the Lorax was banned only in the weaker sense, i.e. sense #2. No school or library has the power to "ban" books in the stronger sense, i.e. sense #1.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
torontoprofessor
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posted 16 July 2007 02:29 PM      Profile for torontoprofessor     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
By the way, aren't all children's books politically charged?
From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2007  |  IP: Logged
jrose
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posted 02 April 2008 12:10 PM      Profile for jrose     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A subversive film treatment of a Dr. Seuss classic

quote:
Dr. Seuss’s much-loved book Horton Hears a Who! has every appearance of innocence. It’s the story of a large animal — Horton — compelled to protect the Whos, a tiny civilization that lives in a speck on a clover and that only he can hear. Horton’s allegiance to the miniature people of Whoville is now a matter of public record. But who, we may ask, is Horton? An elephant of an irrepressibly plucky disposition — yes. An inhabitant of the Jungle of Nool — true. The subject of harassment, assault and forced confinement for his devotion to the Whos – definitely. One of the most cherished creations of Theodor Seuss Geisel, and now the star of a major animated feature – you betcha.

Yet what do we really know about this pachyderm and his sympathies? Is he the big-eared naïf that he appears to be, or does his sweet nature hide a secret agenda? Chances are, most of the viewers of the new film adaptation Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! will not struggle with these questions — seeing as many of them will only recently have mastered tying their shoelaces and making solo forays to the bathroom, judgments of the movie’s value as political allegory may be beyond them, anyhow.



From: Ottawa | Registered: Oct 2006  |  IP: Logged
N.Beltov
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posted 02 April 2008 12:23 PM      Profile for N.Beltov   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think Theodor Seuss Geisel worked on US military propaganda films back in WW2. However, they were anti-Nazi productions.
From: Vancouver Island | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
lagatta
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posted 02 April 2008 12:31 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Many generally progressive writers and other artists took part in the anti-Nazi war effort.

What is sad then is that even Seuss, who did a lot of antiracist stuff after the war as well, fell into horrific racist stereotyping of the Japanese.


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
bigcitygal
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posted 02 April 2008 12:53 PM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Remember when the Vancouver School Board banned "Heather Has Two Mommies", "Asha's Mums" and "One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dads, Blue Dads"?
From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 02 April 2008 12:55 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Seuss's most political book was the Cold-war allegory The Butter Battle Book.

And The Sneetches was about racism.

[ 02 April 2008: Message edited by: M. Spector ]


From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
a lonely worker
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posted 02 April 2008 06:58 PM      Profile for a lonely worker     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another great children's book is Click, clack, moo

Its a great story about cows and other animals working together to demand improvements in their living conditions from the farmer. In the end they strike and win.

Probably the only children's book with a pro-labour message and very funny. Its still our daughter's favourite.


From: Anywhere that annoys neo-lib tools | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
M. Spector
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posted 02 April 2008 09:01 PM      Profile for M. Spector   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Favourite books for kids
From: One millihelen: The amount of beauty required to launch one ship. | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ken Burch
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posted 03 April 2008 12:49 AM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
Many generally progressive writers and other artists took part in the anti-Nazi war effort.

What is sad then is that even Seuss, who did a lot of antiracist stuff after the war as well, fell into horrific racist stereotyping of the Japanese.


Seuss acknowledged the wrong of this in later years, according to a PBS(U.S. pubic broadcasting special) on his life that ran a few years ago.

They also quoted the wonderful moment when, near the bitter end of Watergate, Art Buchwald asked(and received)permission from Seuss to quote in it's entirety Seuss' text for his book "Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go away?", while replacing the name "Marvin K. Mooney" with Richard M. Nixon". All the "talking heads" on the show had a great time reciting this.

Another political Dr. Seuss note: "Yertle The Turtle" was a direct slam on Hitler.


From: A seedy truckstop on the Information Superhighway | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Ken Burch
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posted 03 April 2008 12:51 AM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another book I'd recommend was the children's book adaptation of "Brundibar" , with text by Tony Kushner and illustrations by Maurice Sendak.

For those who don't know, "Brundibar" was originally a children's opera produced in the Terezin(Theresienstadt)concentration camp in occupied Czechoslovakia by adult and child camp detainees. Operating under extreme constraints(as you might imagine)they created a story of children standing up to and defeating a horrible villain(guess who?). Apparently, none of the camp guards or wardens picked up on what they were talking about.

Here's the Wikipedia link to give you a better sense of the story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brundib%C3%A1r

[ 03 April 2008: Message edited by: Ken Burch ]


From: A seedy truckstop on the Information Superhighway | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
kimi
rabble publisher
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posted 07 April 2008 08:26 AM      Profile for kimi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A friend recently published a little book called "From Seattle to Palestine, Becoming Neighbours and Friends. Children's storybook on Israel and Palestine" It is based on her own experiences of working in Palestine and Israel, and traveling back to the US to the questions of her grandchildren. The publisher has created a workbook to accompany it too.

As you can imagine, she is getting vilified in predictable corners. (If you google this book you'll find the critiques quicker than a link to the actual book). I wonder how long before the book gets banned?


From: on the move | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 07 April 2008 08:36 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Heh. Like these guys?

Whine whine.

And check out these promoters of "fair" reporting of the middle east:

quote:
These activists also believe in an alternative universe in which Israeli concessions and withdrawals bringing about an end to Palestinian violence – a fairy tale that has been proven false on numerous occasions in the past decade.

Wow, but they're not biased at all, are they? Lying pricks.

[ 07 April 2008: Message edited by: Michelle ]


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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