Children’s Literature

I was one of those painful children who was a VERY early reader. And I devoured books from at least the age of 3. Even books that my parents’ friends considered unsuitable … so, what was a problem about reading ‘Lolita’ when I was 10?

One of the delights of my childhood was our regular schedule: payday, we’d do dinner at Happy’s Restaurant in Garema Place. I’d then be allowed to choose a Puffin Book all by myself at Verity Hewitt’s Bookshop. Non-Friday night payday, we’d visit the local library, and I would have finished reading my two books by Saturday night. Throughout my late childhood and adult life, however, I have ALWAYS revisited my favourite children’s fiction, and each time re-reading has revealed different, sometimes surprising, nuances.

Which is why I was so delighted to read this from another WordPress blogger – Calmgrove:

For the readership the books were originally aimed at doubtless they were entertaining, but for all their superficial fantasy they also portrayed a reality — the threat of nuclear holocaust, the nature of authoritarian parenting, the evils of totalitarianism — that could upset any rose-tinted view that assumed that all was right with the world.

And that’s why it’s so important that children read, have access to books, to libraries, to classrooms where such fiction is held in esteem. For here, without the bitter pill Victorian novelists forced children to read, are deeply moral narratives. Here there may be crises to face and wicked antagonists popping out of the woodwork; but there won’t be the piety that accompanied too many tales from the 19th century, stories in which the protagonist suffered calamities and atrocities with a reverential quietude and passivity, accepting the fate that a noble sacrifice might offer.

No, as the 20th century proceeded the protagonist (other than the gung-ho British bulldog type who might show natives and the lower classes his superiority with feats of derring-do) would increasingly exhibit humanitarian values and a sense of compassion, combined with a bravery that wouldn’t require outstanding physical prowess or a privileged education. Nesbit’s children’s books are regarded as marking a sea-change from the piety of Victorian and Edwardian literature written to improve children to a more realist yet sympathetic fiction written with their innate sense of fairness in mind.

I generalise of course. But think of the classics that stand the test of time: in the main they are the ones that are based on moral outrage against injustice, war, deprivation, waste, greed, and so on. Whether the scenario is small-scale — family-based, perhaps, maybe in a school — or of epic proportions, stretching across continents, such narratives share the values of many traditional fairytales: standing up for what’s right, and recognising responsibilities.

In an era when most of our daily news stories concern the apparent success that arises from cheating, bullying, lying, exploitation and abuse, and when much contemporary adult fiction seems to end in tragedy or at the very least ambiguity, is it not important for all our sakes to counter that with alternatives? I don’t mean the saccharine endings of romcoms or the impossible triumph, against all the odds, of plucky outsiders over supervillains in the apocalyptic final reel; I’m thinking instead of the child hero who learns to do what is right because…

Well, just because.

My response – from my heart:

For me, children’s lit, fables, legends, etc., has always been about subtly teaching children how to deal with dangerous emotions, with adversity, and with despair. (One of the worst things I think my late unlamented mother-in-law did to my spouse was to refuse to read him – and refuse to let him read – ‘fairy tales’, because they weren’t “true”.)

The starkest example I’ve experienced about the value of children’s lit in this domain was the publication of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.

That was back in 2003, at the height of the propaganda, gaslighting, and downright dishonesty about the “Coalition’s” purported and actual reasons for the invasion and – almost – destruction of Iraq.

– The intolerance of anyone who disagreed.
– The ill-treatment of anyone who disagreed.
– The calmunies directed towards anyone who disagreed.

And, as I read that book, I thought, “Yes, sounds SO like Bush (US), Blair (UK), and Howard (my Oz PM).” Lie after lie after lie, vilification of anyone disagreeing, and the intense desire to destroy anyone disagreeing with their vile stance.

It didn’t – quite – work then.

Now, however?

1,383 thoughts on “Children’s Literature

  1. He keeps blathering about war, he has a fixation about war –
    “We’re dealing with one of the most serious situations this country has seen, certainly since the second world war.”

    Australia has been through a pandemic before, in 1919 with Spanish Flu. One of my great-grandfathers died in that pandemic.

    I doubt the CrimeMinister knows this pandemic happened. Flim-flam men do not pay attention to history, they are only interested in spin and lies.

    You might think we had learned a few things 100 years ago about how to handle massive pandemics but it seems not. We seem to be making the same mistakes this time.

    How Australia’s response to the Spanish flu of 1919 sounds warnings on dealing with coronavirus

  2. Leonie
    Its no surprise that I’ve cancelled trip to Port – made the call yesterday, but was stressing all week about it. Highly likely that I won’t see my mum again. She is 86 & has a recurring lung issue.

    My Bro, SiL & niece headed up today, dropped some boxes of stuff from my late uncle at sister’s place in Thrumpster – left it in her garage and drove away, just a hello from the front porch. They are staying at Breakwall in their caravan.

    Bro was hoping for at least a quick ‘distance’ visit with mum but won’t now. They were planning to head west on Wed for a few weeks, but will probably head home. I told him on Sat that a shutdown was coming & small towns won’t want city folk bringing the virus with them but as usual with him, little sister doesn’t does know what she’s talking about.

    Also have niece, her hubby & 5 kids (9, 7, 5, 3, 8m!!!) in a caravan now stuck near Bunbury – they were doing the round Aus roaming scholar thing, left 18/12, dodged around bushfires etc. Now they can’t get home. Sister is trying to sound calm but she is freaking out…

    I’m still taking the week off work, PM’s press conf on Friday arvo sent the denialists at work into meltdown. Hopefully by the time I go back on 1/4 they will have their shit together…

    • If they can keep it out of the nursing home, your Mum will be ok and you will see her again. I hope that happens. These separations are heart-breaking. Is the nursing home providing any Skype services. Being able to route it through the TVs in people’s rooms would be good.

  3. Murphy is a threat to life (and my sanity)

  4. Is this all MickMack can find to worry about? F’ing football?

    The last thing I care about is whether or not a bunch of grown men get to shove their heads in other blokes’ crotches, sweat all over one another and breathe into one another’s faces.

    Why don’t social distancing rules apply to footballers?

  5. Got a phone call around 6.30 last night from oldest son, who lives across the road, we can see each others place from our front lawns. Grandsons have been banned from visiting and we can all wave to each other, but no more hugs and kisses, no complete run downs of their sporting stuff, because everything has been cancelled, and it is going to be a long long long winter.

    I told him where all our legal stuff is, reminded him we’ve paid for our cremations, and no services. He has lots of work at this stage, particularly water cartage, but doesn’t have physical contact in his actual work so should be okay.

    It was a long phone call, and I think we have both said to each other what needs to be said. Of course we will talk by phone again, and hopefully we’ll all get together when this is over. If not, well that is life.

    • I live next door to family, gravel. For now we’re staying with usual routines of recent years. So, I’m still driven everywhere by them weekdays! Weekends I have a lady gardener who needs extra cash, so she’s been transporting me with Tacker, RIP, ever since it was officially recognised by medicos that I have a terminal condition, common with the elderly, .i.e. ‘Old Age!’ However, I think, like you, we should all be remembering and using that long used phrase…..’that’s life!’

    • Your post last night reminded me that I hadn’t asked son to take care of Hunter, so I asked the boys this morning and they readily accepted, so Razz can relax knowing for sure he’ll be well looked after.

  6. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    Shane Wright says that the government’s efforts to hold up the economy are going to have to change away from adding to business debt.
    Australia’s economic rescue package is a step in the right direction – but we needed a leap opines Stephen Koukoulas.
    Katharine Murphy writes that as Australia goes off the coronavirus cliff, the question is how hard will it land.
    Within minutes of the Morrison government’s second stimulus package last night the national solidarity that has been the hallmark of Australia’s handling of the crisis for the past fortnight began to crumble says Phil Coorey.
    The complacency of the ­Australian public and the relentless invasion of the virus have ­driven leaders into draconian steps. Life in Australia will begin to be transformed this week writes Paul Kelly.
    It appears all is not kosher within the NSW Planning Department.
    Hundreds of psychiatrists have sent a dire warning to the government over the exclusion of online sessions from Medicare rebates amid the coronavirus outbreak.
    Too much has been made of Australia managing well in relative terms. In absolute terms we are facing a national catastrophe writes data expert Grant Wilson in the AFR.
    Childcare businesses forced to close due to the pandemic will still get federal subsidies to ensure they don’t close permanently.
    Here’s Alexander Downer’s less than optimistic take on the outlook with this crisis.
    This crisis will require a huge amount of government investment. Trying to keep the private sector going will not be enough says Greg Jericho.
    Scalable without limit. Peter Martin explains how the government plans to get coronavirus support into our hands quickly.
    The gaping lack of political leadership in co-ordinating a global response to this public health and economic emergency is transparent to all writes Kevin Rudd who calls for world leaders to step up to lead us through this crisis
    “Compared to the vast majority of countries in the world Australia is incredibly well placed to deal with the challenge” says Craig Drummond, the boss of Australia’s largest health fund.
    Hotels stand ready to become quarantine wards as the coronavirus threatens to overwhelm the health system’s ability to cope with the fast-spreading infection.
    The power and influence that the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) has may not be obvious to the naked eye. It has captured the Liberal Party says Mark Buckley.,13712
    Ross Gittins writes that there are two ways Scott Morrison can play this coronacession: he can spread the pain as fairly as possible, or he can yield to all his political instincts and play favourites.
    Kirsten Lawson says that the time is now more than ever for transparency and even dissent.
    Who are most affected on public transport in the time of coronavirus? The Conversation provides some answers.
    With more office employees working from home as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the number of claims made to the Australian Taxation Office for home office expenses this year will soar writes finance journalist John Collett.
    Finally, the jolt we needed has arrived says the Canberra Times editorial.
    The nation’s biggest office and retail landlords have signalled they may accept lower rents from tenants in an attempt to stave off store closures as fears of a recession mount.
    The highly respected and direct Professor John Dwyer writes that we must take social distancing rules seriously, or pay a terrible price.
    David Fickling explores what could be done with our ubiquitous smartphones during this crisis.
    The coronavirus crisis has the ability to bring the best out of us, writes Greenpeace Australia CEO David Ritter.,13716
    It’s morally repulsive how corporations are exploiting this crisis. Workers will suffer says Robert Reich.
    People on Bondi beach win the selfish and stupid award says Amanda Vanstone.
    The AFL is facing the biggest financial crisis in its history after the coronavirus crisis forced the suspension of the 2020 season until at least 31 May.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    Matt Golding

    Jim Pavlidis

    Glen Le Lievre
    John Spooner

    From the US

  7. This is very good –

    PM Who Dismissed UN Climate Conferences As “Nonsense” Furious At Public’s Failure To Respect Authority

    It’s one thing for the most powerful man in the country to disregard expert evidence and advice in matters of life and death, but for ordinary Australians to behave in this way is truly appalling.

    During the ancient times, in October 2018, Scott Morrison responded to the UN report stating the world had less than twelve years to shift away from fossil fuels or face total environmental and social breakdown by refusing to spend any money on global climate conferences and “all that sort of nonsense”.

    It wasn’t the only time the Morrison Government took a cavalier attitude to expertise and authority. Let’s just take a little sample of their climate policy behaviour from the day of Morrison’s ascension to the Prime Ministership, to the height of the bushfire crisis in January this year

    That “little sample” is a list of 129 daft things the CrimeMinister and his government have done and said. With links. Too long to post here.

    It ends with this –
    “Still, where on Earth Aussies get the idea that it’s ok to dismiss expertise and authority is anybody’s guess”

  8. The CrimeMinister has asked us to pray.

    Prime minister asks the nation to pray
    Scott Morrison:
    I will say this: while you may not be able to go to church, the synagogue, the temple or the mosque, I most certainly call on all people of faith in our nation to pray. I can assure you, my prayer knees are getting a good work out

    Doesn’t that fill you with confidence.

  9. TLBD

    Meanwhile in Denmark How to stop hand sanitiser hoarders………………..

  10. tlbd

    We atheists are too busy looking after and caring for others to have time getting on our knees and talking to thin air.

  11. Went down the street to get some bread and milk. Saw the grandsons outside the takeaway shop. We immediately went into sign language blowing kisses and hugs. Had a long distance conversation with them. All I want to do is cry. But I will get over it and continue on.

  12. In NZ this guy is wheeled out each day to detail the what and where of the situation re the virus. He is the Director-General of Health. A pity Australia did not do something like that. A single clear voice nationally. Ardern is wheeled out for major moves. As I suspect they will dontoday with a raising of the response to level 3 or even 4. NZ has just cracked the 100 cases mark with 36 more overnight so a move to tighten up on the cards.

  13. Getting down to practical matters. I will make arrangements with my son to let this blog know if I get killed by this pandemic. or anything for that matter. Can others please do the same. It will save a lot of unhappy wondering and allow those left to say a proper farewell?

    • In the process of doing that.

      Weeks ago, before the coronavirus became a thing, No 1 Son asked me to collect all important papers, will and whatever else I have and give copies to him for safe keeping. Plus, of course, a list of people who have to be informed I’ve fallen off my perch.

  14. I am also downloaded my social meda files, and left instructions for them to go into Legacy, which means it will stay but not load any more posts. Will and everything is done. Left provision for my son to look after my dogs. And I will say thanks for the company, Pubsters.

  15. I just read that the increase to Newstart will not begin for five weeks. Morrison The Miserable Bastard will do anything to make the underdogs suffer. It could be increased today and be in the next payment. Also those registering today will get the lower rate , right when a stimulus is needed and people need money to pay rent etc.
    There is always a sting in the tail with that currant.

  16. Q: What does the Australian government call a large number of Australians trying to use one of the government’s web sites. ?
    A: MyGov website in malicious cyber attack

    There was a malicious cyber attack on the myGov website as thousands of Australians attempted to set up new Centrelink accounts.

    • “Malicious cyber attack” – pffft. Robert just didn’t prepare for the inevitable flood of people attempting to use the site this morning and he’s trying to lie his way out of the mess he created.

      How these Pentecostals can lie!

  17. What a pleasant change from Scrott’s “ANZACKERY” bullshit re virus. Ardern on the move from level two to 3 before 4 on Wed.

    “I do not underestimate what I am asking New Zealanders to do. It is huge. And I know it will feel daunting.”

    Without these measures, up to tens of thousands of people could die, according to medical modelling considered by Cabinet today.

    “The worst case scenario is simply intolerable,” she said.

    It would be the greatest loss of life to a single event in New Zealand’s history.

    “I hope that you are all with me on that decision,” the Prime Minister said today.

  18. So they were bullshit artistes. And they wonder why people don’t believe of listen to what they tell us FMD

    3m ago 03:58

    No cyber attack on myGov – site just overwhelmed.
    At least 95,000 people tried to access myGov this morning, shortly after 9.30am.

    The site can take just 55,000 people at once.

  19. Scott Morrison says NSW Health was responsible for allowing passengers off the Ruby Princess.

    For possibly the first time in his parliamentary career he’s telling the truth.

    Despite popular opinion Border Farce does not control landings from cruise ships, it’s up to the states.

    Brad Hazzard (aptly named) admitted he was at fault.

    The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, said that in hindsight he would have waited for coronavirus test results before allowing passengers to disembark.

    “If I had my opportunity to have my two bob’s worth, with the benefit of what we now know about those … people, I’d have said yeah, maybe we should hold them on the ship,” he said

    That should be a sacking offence.

    • I reckon it is the Reich’s Potato to blame.
      Cruise ships

      Cruise ships are subject to customs, immigration and biosecurity controls when entering and/or departing Australia. This includes requiring permission to enter an Australian Non-Appointed First port of Entry and/or to enter subsequent Ports of Call.

      Passenger clearance options
      The Australian Border Force and cruise operators determine the most efficient and effective method of clearance.

      Options include:

      on a wharf, at a dedicated or temporary facility, or
      on board, while the vessel is alongside, or
      en route, between the last port overseas and the first port of arrival in Australia

    • It’s definitely NSW Health – they are the ones responsible for health checks on passengers. “Biosecurity” is a Customs/Border Force responsibility, it involves stopping the importation of banned plants, animals and foods. The health or illness of cruise ship passengers is not a Border Force responsibility.

      Australia’s most-populous state is tightening protocols for handling illnesses on cruise ships after the number of coronavirus cases linked to a vessel that disembarked in Sydney on Thursday surged to 26.

      New South Wales health department said that going forward it will hold all cruise ships in port until any patients with respiratory issues are tested for COVID-19.

      Some 2,647 passengers were allowed to leave the Ruby Princess ship in Sydney, despite a group reporting flu-like symptoms during the cruise. Three passengers and a crew member subsequently tested positive for the virus and authorities urgently contacted passengers to urge them to self-isolate for 14 days

      I’ve already had this argument, over the weekend. Someone kept saying Dutton can over-rule the states. Well, no, he cannot. Health is a state responsibility. Once a federal department starts over-ruling a state one you are in for a whole mess of trouble. Not even Dutton can do it.

  20. I tried to watch QT, but found it hard to keep listening. Labor was co-operative but questioned different aspects of the stimulus, e.g. How long it will take before people see any actual money, why disability pensioners etc did not get the rise in payments, Medicare’s so called cyber-attack.
    ScottyfromMarketing lost me by going on about ‘on the other side’. This is not just a creek to cross, it is life changing for a long time, perhaps for good.

    – Morrison is a miserable bastard.

    • His dentist will be in for a lot of work. It would have been through teeth so gritted it had to have caused severe damage.

  21. I’m having some personal difficulties trying to stay optimistic about all this. I try to convince myself that all will be fine, then the hard evidence hits me of the situation in Italy, Spain, Iran, USA and France where the whole medical infrastructure in certain areas have collapsed and doctors are walking through ICU’s deciding who lives and who dies, and the dead are transported by the truckload to cemeteries and crematoria, without even the dignity of a funeral.

    It’s all just so goddamn sad and the fact that it’s just going to get exponentially worse makes it really hard to cope sometimes.

    • Kirsdarke

      Work out your calories per day requirement. Check out your protein per day requirement .Check your cupboards. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you have. If not buy up vege oil for calories and chicken breast for protein. Why all that ? Because having a few weeks supply of calories and protein means even in the worst case scenario you will be OK. A definite comfort I now feel ! Also feel great about not being a Boomer……………..means the virus will be kinder to you 🙂

      Also a bonus is that shedloads of people will be finding out for themselves what you have found about our “welfare system”. they will learn that all the bullshit about “dole bludgers” from shoutback radio and tabloid tv they consume is just that,BULLSHIT.

      New post

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