Friday 6 March 2015

World Book Day

The Pirate's Guide to Landlubbing by Jonny Duddle is a available today for £1 or €1.50 in most of the remaining bookshops in these the islands of the Western European Archipelago WEA.  There are nine (9!) other books on sale at the same price aimed at children from tots to young adults.  I gather that kids enrolled in schools get a voucher generous enough to cover the purchase of one of these books - which is also valid against a more expensive book. Landlubbing sounds like a good read, working on a novel trope that the readers are all pirates and inviting them to look at the bizarre antics of land-lubbers. This has enormous scope for helping 5+ readers to question their assumptions (and the assumptions of their parents and older siblings) about how the world ticks.  Why don't we sleep in hammocks and roll them up every morning to make space for a productive purpose?  Why is the act of sleeping - when after all we should be unconscious - so privileged that a whole floor in most Western houses is devoted to this purpose?

The Day is part of a much wider scheme sponsored by UNESCO and as been celebtated in the UK for the last 20+ years.  Predictably, Prime Minister Tony Blair, hijacked (pirated, if you will) the scheme by promoting it as his own in 1998.  Hmmm, just like he presented the Human Genome as if he and Bill Clinton had made if happen if not actually sequenced all that DNA.  Still, that's what politicians do and I think anything that encourages children to read and respect books is A Good Thing. There is many a home in Ireland where the only book the house is the TV Guide - yes, it is referred to as a book, because it is chunkier than Hello magazine, with which it shares the rack under the television.  It's possibly a lost cause - Grand Theft Auto is much more exciting than anything you'll read on a page - but there is a world that may be nurtured by the inside-the-head of imagination. We need that for our future at least as much as ace reaction times and a facility with electronic hardware.

Years ago, when The Boy would have been reading tPGtL if it had been available, he was in a book shop with his mother; sitting on the floor at the back of the store reading carefully and with attention a pop-up book. When they got ready to leave he asked quietly if they could buy this book. We're rich as Croesus now but were not so back then and The Beloved said that they couldn't afford that book . . . or by implication and tone of voice any book that cost more than $1 or €1.50.  The Boy was used to this and trogged off to replace the book on its shelf.  Just then a young fellow, a student, popped his head over the shelves and said that he would buy the book for The Boy. He knew what it was like to have no money and he knew that books caught some people by the throat.  And it was so.
I think Luke 10:37 is in order here.

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