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. Sorry folks – still no decent internet. So I can’t decently pull the Dawn Patrol together.
    According to Telstra it should be restored within the next 4 hours. I’m going stir crazy!

  2. Pork ‘n ‘Ride — another election-winning rort for the Coalition.

    Jommy Tee uncovers the latest dodgy vote-winner from the 2019 federal election — the $149 million Commuter Car Park Fund.
    At Senate estimates last night, ANAO executive director Brian Boyd came out swinging with a volley of unassailable rebuttals. No, Mr Morrison, the sports grants were not “all eligible”. Nearly half – 290 – were ineligible. But, as we now know, the sports rorts were just the bottom of the pork barrel. In the public’s interest, we have now investigated the Commuter Car Park Fund. We at Michael West Media have dubbed it the “Pork ’n’ Ride” program.

  3. Wind and batteries saved the day when storm cut South Australia adrift.

    South Australia’s wind farms and its growing fleet of big batteries played a critical role in keeping the lights on in the state after the dramatic weather events that resulted in one of the country’s biggest transmission lines being torn down by storms.

    The events on the afternoon of Friday January 31 saw the South Australia grid separate from the rest of the National Electricity Market, and it has been operating as an effective island ever since – a ground breaking achievement given the level of renewables in the local grid and the added complexity of having to host the huge Portland aluminium smelter, which also found itself cut off from the rest of Victoria’s grid.

  4. Electricity prices are tumbling for generators, why not for consumers?

    The prices big power generators receive have collapsed, but don’t expect that to show up on your power bill any time soon – if ever.
    Average active wholesale contract prices have fallen roughly 36 per cent over the past three months.
    Forward prices are depressed way off into the future too – down 26 per cent in 2020, 15 per cent in 2021 and around 10 per cent into 2022 and 2023.
    But at the household level there is little change in sight.
    It has a lot to do with the slow transmission of pricing signals to the households through annual regulated price reviews, as well as the factors framing a power bill.
    Then there are the supply and demand dynamics within the electricity grid itself.
    A quarter, or a third lopped off your power bill? Forget it.
    It might work out to 1 or 2 per cent in a couple of years’ time, according to leading analysts such as David Leitch, principal at energy consultants ITK.

  5. GPs have labelled a federal government crackdown on Medicare rorting as “intimidating” and “heavy-handed” for unjustly targeting doctors for treating their patients’ mental and physical health problems together.The GPs were asked to justify these claims or pay them back, warning the department may take compliance action, conduct audits and take legal action if a doctor was found to have breached Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) requirements.

    The warning – the latest in the government’s campaign to weed-out Medicare double-dipping – appears to hinge on the MBS note that if the purpose of a GP consultation is a Mental Health Treatment Plan, a GP can’t claim a consultation for separate health problems “unless it is clinically indicated that a separate problem must be treated immediately”.

    • This government is desperate to kill Medicare.

      They will use any excuse, try any trick to force patients into the clutches of the private health insurance sharks who, strangely, are handsome donors to the Liberal Party.

  6. Inbuilt corruption

    Politicians identify applicants, set up community consultative committees to consider their merits and formally invite organisations to bid for a grant. Only those invited by an MP are eligible for grants, which are later assessed against the program’s criteria by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, the administering body.

    As the local MP, Morton’s invitation was required for any organisation in his electorate of Tangney to be eligible.

  7. Why voting for the Greens is never a good idea.

    All those people on social media asking for a Labor/Greens coalition need to pay more attention.

    • The problem is the Gunner Labor NT government is extremely pro-fracking. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves, but are not.

      That’s why the Greens are putting Labor last – they believe they are being frightfully clever and will end up determining the outcome of the election, or holding the balance of power, or whatever other fantasies their addled, power-crazed brains dream up.

      What the twits don’t realise is the Libs are just as rabidly pro-fracking. So why not put the Libs last?

      Because they are Greens and hate everything Labor far more than they hate conservatives, that’s why.

  8. Still no bloody internet! It’s an NBN issue and Tesltra have not been advised of any expected resolution time. Thanks Tony and Malcolm!

  9. Ingrid M’s weekly run-down on Insiders.

  10. Someone else thought Morrison supported him when really he was just sharpening his knife.

    Remember this – 22 August 2018?


    Treasurer, can you rule out any having any leadership ambitions?


    Me, this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him!;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressrel%2F6162755%22

    Two days later Morrison was PM.

  11. And a response to the idiotic female change rooms nonsense –

  12. This weekend I’ve been watching a bunch of videos by the youtuber ContraPoints/Natalie Wynn. She’s been given the nickname “The Nazi Whisperer” for how effectively she can get into the minds of the alt-right crowd and possibly draw them away from their line of thinking.

    Some of her videos can get a little vulgar, but, I find this one she did on climate change pretty compelling.

  13. About Paul Parker, the RFS volunteer sacked for criticising the CrimeMinister –

    The man was overworked to the point of exhaustion and had just found out his own home had been destroyed while he was out saving other properties.

    I think whoever sacked him needs to attend some of the PM’s empathy classes.

    This is not the way to recruit more volunteers.

    • Disgusting. If I were opposition leader right now I’d sure as hell make this question in the next question time.

      “My question is to the Prime Minister. The RFS Volunteer and hero Paul Parker was sacked this week for making comments about the Prime Minister, on holiday in Hawaii, claiming that he was enjoying his job, after his own home was destroyed while he was working to the point of exhaustion after saving so many others. Did this government press its thumb on the scales in this case, and if it did, does it have no shame?”

      Lately I’ve come to find question time pretty much irrelevant these days, especially since when I started following politics seriously in 2009 onward, I realized that from 2009-2013 it was only a way for Murdoch’s media to amplify Abbott’s opposition against the Labor government, and beyond that it has little value anymore. But still, hopefully that kind of question might pierce through?

    • QT has been a waste of time for the entire term of the ATM government. No point watching when it’s just the CrimeMinister and his henchgoons lying constantly and hurling abuse at Labor.

  14. The Paul Parker story gets worse –

    There were rumours circulating just after he made his remarks saying the RFS was going to stand him down for swearing at the PM. A petition was started to “save” him.

    Then the RFS stepped in and denied there were any plans to sack him so the petition was removed.

    Now he has been dismissed, so someone was telling lies.

    Someone has clearly put pressure on the RFS top brass here. Now who could that possibly be?

    Meanwhile Paul has become a hero –

  15. “Now who could that possibly be?”

    Impossible to know …

    Now, let us see, who funds the RFS? …

    An investigation into the top RFS brass may also be productive. Ronni and Bee and others must be on the job.

  16. Good morning Dawn Patrollers. It’s great to be (sort of) back. Thanks go to the Patrol reservists during the hiatus.

    A strident Sean Kelly writes that Morrison, like Turnbull, has squandered his political strength and delivered policy cowardice.
    In The Canberra Times Peter Brent describes Morrison as “walking wounded”.
    Mark Buckley says that Morrison hasn’t changed since bushfire crisis.,13596
    According to Michael Pascoe the government is betting it all on rising house prices as debt continues to soar.
    Never mind the boats – look at this! The number of asylum seekers who arrive by plane has reached a new peak in a flashpoint over border control, leaving Australia with almost 50,000 people who are yet to be deported after having their claims rejected.
    Now we have an aged care grant rort! Sarah Martin reports.
    And she writes about Labor accusing the government of short changing rural areas through a $150m sports fund that was overwhelmingly spent in marginal seats during the election campaign.
    Michael Koziol reports on Barnaby Joyce saying that Facebook, Google and other online platforms should be required to have reporters in the federal parliamentary press gallery and in regional areas, and produce their own content. If they didn’t, they should face a significant levy which would be used to fund public interest journalism.
    Kevin Rudd writes that Morrison must use fires to pivot on climate change. And he stands by is statement that climate change is the greatest economic, environmental and moral challenge of our generation.
    In quite a confronting manner the AFR’s Aaron Patrick says that in hindsight, the drought was a fake crisis. A sense of doom was created by the media, validated by politicians and encouraged by the weather bureau.
    Rich Listers face more scrutiny as the Tax Office examines trust distributions to beneficiaries, including adult children. Bring it on!
    Ross Gittins posits that home ownership in Australia has become a devouring monster. He says that if we want to make home ownership more affordable for more young people seeking security of tenure for their home, the answer is to make home ownership less attractive as a form of investment.
    This is JUST what the country needs! A conservative activist group – which bills itself as the right-wing version of GetUp – will target primary school children with a series of new resources designed to counter the “climate alarmist narrative” it says is being pushed in classrooms and the media.
    Economist Angela Jackson writes on how the young are dropping out of private health insurance like flies.
    In the midst of an LNG export boom, why are we getting so little for our gas asks Dianne Kraal. She says that Australians have a right to be paid what their resources are worth and to use that money to build government services or a budget surplus.
    Dana McCauley tells us that doctors are fighting an application by global tobacco giant Philip Morris International to sell its “heat not burn” products in Australia, warning there is “no evidence” the product is any safer than smoking cigarettes.
    Jennifer Duke explains how Australia has been split in two by natural disasters, with confidence dropping in regional towns amid fears residents will take insurance money and move away. It is a bit of a ticking time bomb I fear.
    It is quite apparent that the government is putting a real squeeze om GPs, our health service front line.
    Quality childcare has become a necessity for Australian families, and for society. It’s time the government paid up writes Jen Jackson.
    The head of a London-based foreign affairs think tank writes on the damage done by the British High Commissioner to Australia’s diplomatic misstep.
    Robert Reich tells us that in his assault on justice, Trump has out-Nixoned Nixon.
    Why Bloomberg is the only candidate strong enough to withstand Trump.
    Dana McCauley provides us with today’s nomination for “Arseholes of the Week”.

    Cartoon Corner

    David Rowe

    Matt Golding

    Alan Moir (look at Dutton’s face!)

    Mark David

    Johannes Leak continues the culture wars.

    From the US

  17. Excellent article by Elizabeth Oliver – “The tick-a-box GP – a bureaucrat’s dangerous fantasy”.

    One of my sons has a chronic medical issue plus he had a long battle with depression which is not really over..When he sees his GP he may well talk about both problems at the same appointment. Chances are his GP will mention the depression anyway, without being asked, just to check on how things are..

    Should he stop doing this, discuss only one issue and make an appointment to talk about the other? If he does that he’s not only out of pocket for two consultations, Medicare also has to give the GP a rebate for two, not one.

    How is this idiotic idea helping lower costs when it is actually going to cost the government more? How is it helping patients?

    If a family cannot meet the cost of extra appointments then chances are they will decide one issue can wait – indefinitely.

    If this is a clumsy attempt to force us all into private health insurance then it won’t work. Families are giving up their private cover because they realise it’s not worth the money. Why pay thousands a year when you have Medicare? People abandoning private health insurance is just another symptom of the economic mismanagement crippling Australia.

    Conservative governments hate Medicare because they believe it takes money away from their donors – the big health insurance companies, most of them overseas-owned. Since Fraser’s time they have been trying to destroy it. They want a return to the old system where doctors might deign to take on charity cases in hospitals and the poor were denied GP care because they could not afford it.

    Only the well-off deserve good health, the rest of us can just stagger away and die in a ditch.

    Labor was ripped apart by the media in the 2016 election campaign over the alleged “Mediscare” campaign. Turns out it was the absolute truth, not that the media will ever admit that. The ATM government wants to get rid of Medicare so they are killing it slowly, one cut at a time. Eventually it will be gone, if they get their way.

  18. Going back to the Paul Parker story from last night –

    For those who care to watch the entire interview it’s here, around 22 minutes in.

    Whoever ordered his dismissal must have been on the phone to RFS HQ within minutes of that news item appearing.

    I suspect the CrimeMinister, it’s exactly the sort of thing he would do. Gladys is also on the list. The NSW Emergency Services minister David Elliott has also been mentioned as a possible suspect.

    So the rumours circulating back then, the rumours the RFS denied just a couple of days after Paul was stood down/dismissed/sacked, were actually true. Whoever came up with that petition should have left it on

    Social media was alive last night with comments condemning the RFS, there were many saying they have lost all respect for the RFS. Not surprising.

  19. Ross Gittins posits that home ownership in Australia has become a devouring monster.

    It’s not the “home ownership” that is the monsters it is the turning one of our basic needs,shelter, into a get rich/investment/tax minimisation/lurk scheme. I remember the Hammock Dweller Costello poking fun at the Germans because their house prices had in real terms remained pretty much static for 20 years. Somehow we were supposed to be the “clever” ones . The ones paying more and more of our income into larger mortgages. As MegaGeorge pointed out back then. People were paying more of their income to mortgages under the “record low” interest rates of the Coalition than they did under the “horror ” rate spike under Labor.

    All of which means more to mortgage means even less discretionary spending, so tough luck all you small and medium business owners. Not to mention the stress and loss of enjoyment it inflicts on so many trying to keep a roof over their heads. An example of the difference “these days” . Back when the 1990 recession hit I lost my job. Not sure when i’d get another one I did a bit of a budget and found worst case scenario,long term unemployment, I could on the dole afford to rent a 2 bedroom furnished apartment and as long as the car or some such did not blow up be able to afford a frugal life. Today I would be looking at homelessness or shared accommodation in no time flat .

    • I blame Howard – remember when someone asked him about rapidly increasing home prices and he brushed the question off with a flippant comment like “I don’t think anyone is unhappy about their home being worth more”.

      He missed the point, deliberately I’ve always thought. He refused to comment on first home buyers being priced out of the market.

      Not only house prices go up, rents increase as well so investors can keep on making profits.

      It’s no wonder retail is dying – no-one has money for discretionary spending after paying for their accommodation, electricity bills and food.

  20. The RFS says Parker is still a member of the RFS but is looking into what might have happened or been said at the brigade level. The CrimeMinister has made insincere soothing noises. I suspect a lot of arse-covering is going on.

    Whoever wrote this article is clearly following Nine’s “Always protect the PM” instructions, the headline is a disgrace.
    RFS denies volunteer was fired for expletive-laden tirade at Prime Minister

  21. Federal police raid on ABC over Afghan files ruled valid
    ABC ordered to pay costs after challenging legality of AFP raid in connection with report on alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

    The decision was made by one judge – Justice Wendy Abraham, not the full bench.

    Reports of a preliminary hearing last year (also by Justice Abraham) indicated this was how things would go.

    ABC loses preliminary round in fight with AFP over raid

    I hope the ABC appeals.

    If you like poring though legal documents here’s the judgement –

  22. On the sports rorts and various other efforts at chicanery, as a humble truck driver for a multinational concrete and quarrying company I even had to sign off on a code of conduct which a breach off would lead to termination of employment. What happens to these fekkers that go way beyond anything I could possibly do? SFA!!!

  23. Good.

    The government is desperate to win this case and is trying very dodgy tactics. Here’s hoping they lose.

    Judge tells government to give documents to Biloela family’s lawyer after ‘overenthusiastic’ redactions
    Non-redacted documents of briefing between Peter Dutton and Sri Lankan authorities should be given to family’s lawyer, judge says

  24. He has some gall!

    Scott Morrison has slammed General Motors’ decision to axe the Holden brand, accusing the US car giant of allowing the iconic Australian marque to “wither away” while accepting billions in taxpayer subsidies.

    GM announced the end of Holden on Monday, saying it would exit the “highly fragmented right-hand-drive market” and “retire” the Holden brand by 2021.

    • Good lord! Does he have no shame?

      He was a member of Abbott’s cabinet, the cabinet that supported killing our car industry.

      He really does believe we are all stupid and will believe whatever spin and lies he spouts.

  25. Sorted it out. Finally

    More than 200 people stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan by the coronavirus outbreak will be flown to the Northern Territory, where they must remain in quarantine for a further 14 days.

    Scott Morrison said on Monday 209 Australians still aboard the cruise ship, in quarantine in Yokohama since 3 February, when cases of Covid-19 were discovered on board, would be brought to Australia on a Qantas charter flight on Wednesday.

    The evacuees will be taken to the former construction workers’ village at Howard Springs, outside Darwin, where they will remain in quarantine for a further 14 days. About 150 of the Australians on Diamond Princess are over the age of 60.

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