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. Children’s books

    When I was 5 the local municipality opened a library and stocked it with picture books, which mum adored so even after we were at uni the librarians still directed mum to the latest picture books which she devoured in 5 min flat 20 min if the illustrations were very good. Mums real reading was serious novels

    I liked
    Little Black Sambo

    Listened to The Faraway Tree in grade 3. No Enid Bayton or comics in our house
    First non-picture book I read was in year 7, The Singing Tree, on the curriculum. So I always feel for the boys being told “you’re in high school now you can’t read picture books”

    I had a crack at War of the Worlds when I was 7 but was spooked because I couldn’t distinguish truth from fiction so had a marked preference for picture books

  2. Had our friend here today who was burnt out in the fires. They lost everything. They were surprised that St Vinnies gave them a huge donation that her husband could put towards replacing his tradie tools. He had spent heaps at Bunnings who gave them 10% off purchase price. Just letting you know that if anyone donated to the St Vinnies fire fund, they are giving to the victims.

    • It’s so predictable you could almost set your watch by it – whenever the government gets itself into a mess out come the fake leadershit stories.

      Never a mention of the very real internal wars going on in the government ranks though.

    • Kimberley Kitching’s reply –

    • When you visited a colombaris establishment, the food wasn’t cheap, it was well prepared and you assumed you were paying enough to cover the wages bill. You were!
      Colombaris and other food outlet owners in melbourne had entered a race to buy a nice run down property in south Yarra, renovate it extensively, excavate underground car parking, install pool or tennis court on top

      Owners include
      Ferguson Plarre – Essendon

  3. A good spit by Van

    Surprise! The government of Australia is pushing a so-called religious discrimination bill that has nothing to do with religion.

    What it does have a lot to do with is conservatives trying to snatch by stealth political victories they have comprehensively, resoundingly, publicly lost with the electorate.

    It was not a coincidence that the conservatives first mooted such a bill after losing the cruel, expensive “postal survey” on marriage equality they forced on to every Australian of voting age in 2017. Please note: Australia’s now-prime minister, Scott Morrison, could not even bring himself to remain in the chamber when the parliament voted to enable equal marriage rights for all Australians.

    Pentecostal Morrison is on record describing a reluctance to “mix my religion … and my faith with politics”. It’s a statement in curious contrast with a man who brought camera crews with him to church during the election campaign, and who is now, of course, pushing legislation that would enshrine a special right for religious individuals to discriminate against other Australians into Australian law.

  4. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (aka Connie FW) pushed a right-wing conspiracy theory that’s been around for ages in parliament.

    An Online Conspiracy Theory About The Bushfires Was Aired In Australia’s Parliament
    The theory, similar to one floated by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro during the Amazon fires, has been circulating online since September.

    Australian senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has used her platform in the federal parliament to float a conspiracy theory that “ecoterrorists” or environmental activists deliberately lit Australia’s bushfires to promote acceptance of climate change.

    In a speech to parliament on Feb. 11, the Liberal Party representative for New South Wales questioned whether alleged arsonists were “lone actors or part of a sinister collective conducting ecoterrorism” and said the scenario suggested “a level of coordination”. The senator also referred to possible overseas involvement and cited the California wildfires.

    This may be its first airing in parliament, but the theory has swirled around Australia’s right-wing internet circles since the beginning of the country’s deadly bushfire season.

    It joins other widely spread false and misleading information — including debunked claims that the Australian Greens were responsible for a downturn in hazard reduction burning and that arsonists are to blame for the severity of the bushfires — that has in recent months sent a virulent and powerful message denying the effects of climate change.

    Representatives from the NSW Rural Fire Service and Victorian Country Fire Authority have said lightning strikes caused the majority of the most destructive blazes this season. Arson accounted for 1% of the land burned in NSW, and less in Victoria, the ABC reported

    Why do people keep returning loons like Connie to the Senate?

  5. Good morning Dawn Patrollers

    John Hewson proses six rules to lead to the cleaning up of politics. Good stuff!
    Here we go! Malcolm Turnbull is set to divulge what he knew about a federal police probe into Nationals MP George Christensen’s frequent travel to south-east Asia.
    Here’s Peter van Onselen’s article on the so-called Otis Group within the Labor Party.
    Coalition stability is now just farcical says Jennifer Hewett in quite a hood article.
    This is not a good sign. One of Sydney’s largest recycling plants has become the latest casualty of a collapse in market prices for plastics and paper products two years after China slapped a ban on foreign waste.
    Michelle Grattan tells us how Pauline Hanson’s change of mind saved the day for Mathias Corman yesterday.
    As a shining beacon to public ignorance and irresponsible media Chinatown’s Shark Fin House, one of Melbourne’s most loved restaurants, has been forced to close after customer numbers collapsed over coronavirus fears.
    This article in The Conversation makes my point nicely.
    After its failure to win government at the 2019 Election, Labor needs to rethink its strategies for a chance to succeed in 2022, writes Professor John Quiggin.,13589
    Emma Hoehn reports that bushfire-affected businesses in Victoria and South Australia are still waiting for applications to open for concessional loans unveiled by the federal government last month, as each state rolls out the program individually.
    There is a financial and scientific consensus on climate change; a policy consensus is the next step, writes NSW energy minister Matt Kean.
    And Kevin Rudd has warned the EU is looking at climate tariffs against Australia and that the Morrison government will be “200 years too late” on net-zero emissions.
    Ken Wyatt says he fully expects some Coalition colleagues to cross the floor and campaign with the “no” case once the Morrison government presses ahead with recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution.
    Stephen Bartholomeusz explains how the unintended but inevitable consequences of low – or in Europe even negative – risk-free rates are compressed net interest margins for banks and the decimation of earnings from investments that insurers hold against their future claims liabilities.
    Mark Kenny writes that politicians keep finding new ways to disappoint us.
    The awarding of the submarine contract to the French is panning out just as I expected. It will end in (expensive) tears. The Germans are much easier to work with.
    Scott Morrison said he will rethink visa entry conditions for Indonesian visitors, a system suffering from Peter Dutton’s incompetence, writes Abul Rizvi.,13587
    According to The Age some new Australian research reveals parents are being left behind while predators evolve their methods and target new platforms to exploit children.
    Greg Jericho writes that the Coalition’s fervour for a budget surplus has cooled as its prospects turn to toast.
    Jess Irvine calls for the scrapping of stamp duty and its replacement by a proper land tax.
    Two professionals tell us that here is another shameful gap Australia needs to close, namely the city-country health divide.
    Paul Karp continues the drip feed by reporting that the consultancy of former Coalition minister John McVeigh’s brother indirectly benefited from a $5.5m regional jobs grant to a Liberal National party donor, winning a $1.65m contract to help Nolan Meats expand its Gympie abattoir as part of the same project.
    The Canberra Times reports that former Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary Terry Moran has said the world has passed the “high water mark” of outsourcing the delivery of public services.
    Luke Henriques-Gomes reveals that the government was repeatedly warned in tribunal decisions that it could not enforce alleged welfare overpayments under its robodebt scheme without proving the debt existed, nearly three years before the federal court reached the same conclusion.
    Climate change is a major threat to Australia’s financial stability and could cost the country at least $29 billion a year if we continue business as usual, a new study has revealed.
    A pissed off Peter Fitzsimons writes about yet another sports rort where a $24m grant benefited a pokies outfit.
    Almost 150,000 public servants are set to undergo compulsory integrity training, but there’s still no timetable for the introduction of a national integrity commission. Writes Sally Whyte.
    Vitamin group Blackmores has scrapped its first-half dividend after a dramatic 48 per cent slide in profits and warned the second half will be even worse because of three months of disruption from the coronavirus outbreak, and upheaval at a Melbourne factory. Just desserts for a company that sells stuff that is essentially useless.
    Some bosses deliberately under pay their workers. Some do it by mistake. But either way, bosses who rip off their workers are not victims writes Tony Burke as he singles out George Calombaris in an op-ed for the AFR.
    Serial dill, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, doesn’t like the current form of the religious discrimination bill and wants it replaced with something much simpler.
    And here’s the dill in action!
    Kaye Lee reckons Connie has hit peak weird!
    Van Badham describes the Coalition’s religious freedom proposal as a stealthy Trojan horse that undermines women’s reproductive rights.
    With older Australians stilling processing Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s advice to learn new skills and delay retirement, a new report adds to the mounting evidence of an Australian ageism crisis writes Euan Black.
    James Massola explains how Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to end the visiting forces agreement with the United States would embolden China and re-shape power dynamics in south-east Asia.
    Now the idiot Trump has fired off a barrage of tweets attacking and naming a federal judge involved in the Roger Stone case.
    In one of the most significant decisions of his papacy, Pope Francis dismissed a proposal to allow some married men to be ordained in the Amazon region.
    The Washington Post looks at the influence of candidates’ height in political success.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    Matt Golding

    Mark David

    Alan Moir

    John Shakespeare

    Peter Broelman

    Leak continues his usual form

    From the US

  6. Ken Wyatt says he fully expects some Coalition colleagues to cross the floor and campaign with the “no” case once the Morrison government presses ahead with recognising Indigenous Australians in the constitution.

    Poor old deluded Ken is wrong.

    The Crime Minister is never going to allow constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians in any form. He’s an out and out racist, he simply won’t go there.

    He will find a reason to avoid doing anything – probably some malarkey about a budget surplus being more important than a referendum.

  7. From Serkan Ozturk of True Crime News Weekly –

    YET ANOTHER SCOTT MORRISON LIBERAL RORT! Taxpayers stumping up $85,000 a year for best friend of PM’s ‘sad & lonely’ wife to hang out at Kirribilli House

    She’s the best friend of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s wife and so happens to be married to Australia’s biggest QAnon conspiracy theorist, Tim Stewart. And somehow, Lynelle Stewart has scored herself a very cushy position at Kirribilli House at taxpayers expense.

    It can now be revealed Ms Stewart is pocketing $85,000 a year as well as a Commonwealth car to hang out with her best friend, Jenny Morrison – the Prime Minister’s wife – at Kirribilli House in Sydney’s exclusive and chi-chi northern suburbs.

    What her official duties are, it’s hard to say. Ostensibly, she was hired as a full time personal assistant. One source claims the pair while away their time having cups of tea while Lynelle keeps Jenny company.


    It has been told to True Crime News Weekly that Jenny thought up of the idea of having a full-time personal assistant after becoming increasingly “isolated and anxious” living in the political residence nestled on Sydney’s Harbour.

    The official reason for the Morrisons moving into Kirribilli House in early 2019 was that it was for security reasons, but one security expert knowledgeable about matters pertaining to the safety of political leaders has claimed there was no reason the Morrisons could not have upgraded the security at their own home and continued to live there or lived in the official PM’s residence in Canberra The Lodge, which is in mothballs

    I thought devout Pentecostal wives delighted in being devoted wives and mothers, their cult teaches women, once married, should devote themselves to caring for their husbands (first) and families (second). So why did Jenny need nannies, at our expense, for her almost teenage daughters? And why doesn’t she devote herself to some charity work or become patron of a worthy cause as other prime ministerial wives have done? It is said Jenny was once a nurse and worked in childcare, so why not take an interest in those fields? Why mope around in the harbourside mansion swilling cups of tea with her bestie while being indoctrinated with QAnon conspiracy theories?

  8. The longer this “Otis group” nonsense goes on the more it falls apart.

  9. Sneaking right under the radar while everyone is looking at sports rorts and Labor people having dinner –

    NSW Government decision to lift embargo on flood plain harvesting enrages downstream communities

    People in the lower Darling are up in arms after the NSW Government lifted an embargo on irrigators taking floodwater currently making its way down the river.

    The New South Wales State Government recently introduced an embargo on pumping from a tributary or harvesting floodwaters but that has been lifted for three days.

    The Government said that flow targets had been met and floodwaters might cause damage to private infrastructure if irrigators could not divert it into dams.

    The news has left graziers, indigenous groups and towns reliant on water further downstream feeling angered and confused

    Gladys and her federal cronies are all for big water-guzzlers and not for small farmers and towns needing reliable water supplies. Here’s all the proof you need of their duplicity and stupidity.

  10. Roy Hill to retrofit 77 haul trucks for autonomous operation
    Latest Australian iron ore miner to choose robots.

    Roy Hill is set to convert its existing fleet of 77 haul trucks from manned to autonomous, joining other large iron ore miners such as Rio Tinto and BHP in doing so.

    The company, which is majority-owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, said it had struck an agreement with two companies – Epiroc and ASI Mining – to run the conversion.

    They, in turn, will need to work with other technology partners of Roy Hill, as well as some additional automation specialists, to run the project

    All this blather from Labor about supporting mining jobs sounds really daft, doesn’t it.

  11. Interesting

    Ireland’s remarkable general election clearly marks a turning point for the republic. By topping the poll last weekend, Sinn Féin has broken the old politics wide open. Mary Lou McDonald’s party will now be either part of Ireland’s new government or the main opposition. Either outcome marks an astonishing change of fortune. Only nine months ago, in last year’s European elections, Sinn Féin came a poor fifth in seats. Within living memory, the party was a virtual pariah in the south.

  12. Be it Moscow

    or Washington

    Even in the deep heart of Texas

    it gives this little kiwi a buzz to see how something from a wee place at the arse end of the world pops up all over the place 🙂

  13. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.
    I am stranded here at home with no broadband and an extremely patchy and slow mobile data service. I have tried valiantly to pull the patrol together but it’s not going to happen this morning. I am declaring a force majeure.

    • The same thing happened to me last week – no broadband, my mobile could barely connect to the internet, so no hope of a hotspot,. It all came good later in the day.

      It must be something going around.

  14. Today’s sports rort –

    Bridget McKenzie gave ‘spare’ $150,000 to shooting study rather than major games for intellectually impaired
    Global event for intellectually impaired athletes knocked back for funding as study on benefits of shooting approved

    This creature should resign from the parliament, but if she did the Crime Minister would just reward her with a high-paying job anyway, something created just for her. He has to stop her spilling the beans on his personal involvement, so possibly something like Australia’s roving ambassador to the world shooting community. That would have the advantage of keeping her out of the country.

  15. The racism around the coronavirus scare is bad enough, but even worse is the rampant stupidity shown by too many Australians.

    How the hell could you catch the virus by eating at a Chinese restaurant in Sydney?

    As coronavirus fears spread, Chinese restaurants are reporting an 80pc drop in business

    It’s down between 60-80 per cent, several restaurant managers told Hack. Many say they can only stay afloat for a few more weeks.

    “We may not be killed by the virus but instead killed by the business environment,” Victor Tan, manager of New Chilli House, told Hack.

    The well-known business has been losing $10,000 a week, Victor says

    Then there’s this charming individual from Perth – apart from the blatant racism and the stupidity it’s also a strong warning on the importance of having a proper, legal lease.

    Coronavirus fears see Malaysian student evicted from Perth share house by landlord

    To cap it all off there’s the CrimeMinister’s loopy decision to extend the temporary travel ban for all non-Australians travelling from China for another week.

    Does he really believe that Australian citizens are somehow immune? Is he allowing infected travellers into the country just because they have Australian citizenship? You either ban all incoming travellers from China or you let them all in. You cannot discriminate on the basis of citizenship.

    • As I said before the “yellow peril” is still alive. It’s unfortunate that it’s the Chinese who cop it again. I personally would not go to a Chinese restaurant at the moment, same as I wouldn’t go to a French restaurant if a new virus had been detected there. I’m just terrified of contagion. And I’m surprised that a large Chinese restaurant cannot last longer than a couple of months.

      Another question I have asked myself; what if some strange virus started infecting Indigenous communities. Just imagine how they’d be treated…

  16. More on stupid, baseless rumour-mongering.

    Sunrise airs ‘frightening’ coronavirus travel map – from 2010
    Channel Seven morning show among those to use decade-old air travel map to illustrate contagion fears.

    You’d have to be beyond stupid to watch the dross that passes for “entertainment” and “news” on Sunrise, it’s TV for the braindead.

    Thousands will have seen that story and, because they are stupid, will have believed it. How many will have seen the story in The Guardian? Maybe one or two. .

  17. I would suggest a very large proportion of the loss of trade suffered by “Chinese restaurants” is due to Chinese patrons/tourists/students staying away. There are plenty of Australian redneck dicks wandering about but from a couple of places I have been to the good food places were heavily patronised by Asian customers.

    As for Sunrise and such morning shows. I last watched it while waiting for a colonoscopy a few years back, appropriate in a way. Anyway, I still remember getting a feeling my IQ was dropping as each minute of viewing passed by.

  18. The Morrison government has made it known to the owners of the Vales Point coal-fired power plant that they are likely to get an $11m grant to upgrade the facility in the May budget.

    Canberra buried the probable commitment to the coal project on page 12 of a 13-page $2bn agreement with the Berejiklian government to increase gas supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector.

    The agreement says the commonwealth will fund three state projects that have applied for support through the Morrison government’s underwriting program. The Vales Point upgrade, pursued by energy baron and LNP donor Trevor St Baker, was shortlisted by the energy minister, Angus Taylor, last year.

    Scott Morrison characterised the Vales Point upgrade at the time it was shortlisted as “one very small” coal project. At the time, Morrison was battling tensions between Liberals opposed to taxpayer support for coal and Queensland Nationals championing it, with the federal election in sight.

  19. It’s time we clipped the ministerial wing of its protected species – the advisers.
    Some of the desks are being cleared out in the ministerial wing of Parliament House after a summer that subjected ministers and their staff to more scrutiny than they could take. The office of Angus Taylor has farewelled several advisers after the farce of the Clover Moore letter, when the Energy Minister sent fake numbers to the City of Sydney mayor and the media in a bumbling attempt to grab a headline.

  20. Some well earned free beer.

    ‘He said what the rest of us were thinking’: Firefighter’s free beers after spray at PM

    “Pretty much every day someone comes in and puts their money down, telling us to buy a few beers for that bloke who got stuck into the Prime Minister,” says the licensee of the Steampacket Hotel, Joel Alvey.

  21. Key points:

    The Government has refused to release Phil Gatejens’ report into the sports grants program

    Mr Gaetjens has provided a summary of his report to a Senate inquiry examining the pre-election program

    He said there were shortcomings in decision making but Bridget McKenzie wasn’t “unduly influenced” by marginal electorates

  22. Rachel Maddow – (a bit lengthy but worth it. after watching imagine how this sort of thing will happen here once potato head is in charge)

  23. Paul Karp

    Gaetjens cast doubt on the conclusion that a spreadsheet generated in November 2018 that was colour-coded by electorate and party was the basis of McKenzie’s decisions, noting that decisions were made months later in three rounds in December 2018, February 2019 and April 2019, and that 30% of projects labelled “successful” on that sheet were not funded.

    He said this evidence “does not accord” with the ANAO’s conclusion that McKenzie’s office had focused on marginal and target electorates.

    “I did not find evidence that the separate funding approval process conducted in the minister’s office was unduly influenced by reference to marginal or targeted electorates.”

  24. Friendlyjordies’ latest slams Gladys in NSW for sacking 12,000 public servants to fund the botched Sydney Light Rail.

    I know the next election is 3 years away, but I really hope the NSW Coalition government crashes and burns as hard as the Labor government of 2007-2011 did. Probably unlikely, thanks to the stranglehold of Murdoch and 2GB over “swinging voters”.

Comments are closed.