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John Thacker



Joined: 28 Oct 2013
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:29 am Reply with quote
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this 1883 tale that popularized most of our misconceptions about pirates isn't on a lot of kids' reading lists any more due to its dark themes and outdated language. (Because of the myth that boys don't read, this tends to be a larger issue with “boy” books than “girl” books.)


Hmm, I've always thought that it tended to be a larger issue with "boy" books because older boy books are more likely to have dark themes, violence, offensive language, and "generally troubling" elements. By contrast, "girl" books, whether their protagonists are stereotypical good girls or the sort who don't take guff from anyone, tend not to offend modern sensibilities as much. (In my experience, modern boys are perfectly willing to read those older books; it's adults that take them away or don't put them on lists.)

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there's a further complication that the [Wizard of Oz] novel contains numerous political references that are largely lost today


Well, it has a few comments that aren't any more difficult than outdated language in other works, and then there's the Henry Littlefield theory, which itself dates to 1964, of the whole thing being a big political allegory about populism, right? It's a fascinating paper and has certainly enriched Oz study and made for some debate (much like Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin's effect on Milton studies and Paradise Lost), but it's still quite controversial. It's that paper and the resulting scholarship that helped "take Oz out of the hands of kids," you might say, but while the theory is very interesting, I'm not convinced that the tale really has a "political origin" in Baum's mind, as opposed to an interesting interpretation put on it later.
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Alan45
Village ElderVillage Elder


Joined: 25 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:47 am Reply with quote
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That's not something we can say about all novels, no matter how “classic” they are or how much we love them. Take Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure novel Treasure Island, for example: this 1883 tale that popularized most of our misconceptions about pirates isn't on a lot of kids' reading lists any more due to its dark themes and outdated language.


I think you are forgetting Rafael Sabatini and a lot of pulp writers now forgotten. As to the dark themes and outdated language, I first read Treasure Island (the Scribners illustrated edition with the magnificent N. C. Wyeth paintings) when I was probably nine. I had no problem with either then or since. Apparently parents have become somewhat overprotective since then. Kidnapped, on the other hand, had to wait a couple of years.

As a side note, Stevenson had never seen the Caribbean and got the appearance wrong. People familiar with the area say that the physical description of Treasure Island is very similar to the coast of California near Monterey. Stevenson had lived there while courting someone else's wife.
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belvadeer



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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:49 am Reply with quote
Don't forget the lovely DS game, Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. Like many instances, it doesn't completely follow the story of Oz (spoiler[Dorothy lives alone in her Kansas home, no sign of her family anywhere]), but a game adaptation done by the Wild Arms developers that has Dorothy and the guys fighting Dragon Quest style battles is definitely a nice highlight. A major key difference with the game is that Tin Man doesn't speak coherently at all and just makes growling and grunting noises, implying not having a heart makes you a monster, which is largely out of context with the original character.
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Vaisaga



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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:11 am Reply with quote
Strain: Little Princess + mecha = awesome.
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Princess_Irene



Joined: 16 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:22 am Reply with quote
I love Rafael Sabatini - his Peter Blood books are among my favorites - and other old pulp authors, like James Oliver Curwood or the much tamer Joseph Lincoln. I think I first read Treasure Island when I was seven or eight too. But I am seeing it being kept from kids that age now, generally being saved for high school alongside things like Lord of the Flies. It's not a trend I like.

@John Thacker

It's sort of cyclical, in my experience. I've taught in schools where I wasn't permitted to teach out of 1001 Nights and where the only way it was acceptable for boys to read was if the story involved cars, and I've taught in places where boys would read anything. There's an interesting essay by Sarah Wadsworth called "Louisa May Alcott, William T. Adams, and the Rise of Gender-Specific Series Books" that discusses the issues around gender, content, and reading. Jon Scieszka's "Guys Read" initiative seems to indicate that there's still a gender divide, or at least a perceived one.

I'll have to double-check my Annotated Wizard for actual dates on the political theory!

@Belvadeer
Dorothy is also a playable character in the shooter game "Zombie Panic in Wonderland," which is just as nuts as it sounds.

Vaisaga, I've been playing a visual novel that adapts A Little Princess into a yuri romance, "Little Lily Princess." It's adorable.
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Otaku-sempai



Joined: 27 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:27 am Reply with quote
A fairly obscure 1992 show that sticks in my mind for some reason is The Bush Baby (Bush Baby, Little Angel of the Grasslands), based on the book Bushbabies (1965) by Canadian author William Stevenson.



Another, better known adaptation, is Future Boy Conan based on Alexander Key's The Incredible Tide, with direction and character designs by Hayao Miyazaki.
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Lemonchest



Joined: 18 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 11:53 am Reply with quote
Watched Nippon Animation's recent Sinbad adaptation the other day. Was pretty rubbish, tbh, as they just turned it into a bland adventure about a young (oddly pale skinned) boy with a dead dad who wants to save the magical princess, who also has a dead dad, with the help of his friend Ali (not Baba but does sail on a ship called the Ba) who also has a dead dad. Something something we mustn't let science upset the natural order of things etc etc. It took a few ideas from the 1001 Arabian Nights, but made a right pigs ear of putting them together in a coherent manner.
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belvadeer



Joined: 11 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:38 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
@Belvadeer
Dorothy is also a playable character in the shooter game "Zombie Panic in Wonderland," which is just as nuts as it sounds.


Yup, I'm familiar with that one too. Oz also has a dark graphic novel adaptation (like many famous fairy tales have gotten) where spoiler[Tin Man becomes a heartless machine dictator of Oz after discarding his own heart and Lion comes from a tribe of warriors where he's considered a coward for not fighting for the hand of a potential mate that he and a rival both desired].
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 12:55 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
Quote:
this 1883 tale that popularized most of our misconceptions about pirates isn't on a lot of kids' reading lists any more due to its dark themes and outdated language. (Because of the myth that boys don't read, this tends to be a larger issue with “boy” books than “girl” books.)


Hmm, I've always thought that it tended to be a larger issue with "boy" books because older boy books are more likely to have dark themes, violence, offensive language, and "generally troubling" elements. By contrast, "girl" books, whether their protagonists are stereotypical good girls or the sort who don't take guff from anyone, tend not to offend modern sensibilities as much. (In my experience, modern boys are perfectly willing to read those older books; it's adults that take them away or don't put them on lists.)


Jon Scieszka, of "Time Warp Trio" fame, made a big national library/publishing cause out of "Boys Read"--
Namely, that if you name a classic iconic independent achieving character in children's literature to recommend to your fourth-grade reader, you're probably thinking of a girl: Alice, Dorothy, Fern, Jo, Anne of Green Gables...Go on, think of a few famous boy-heroes.

In trying to create a list of "Boy issue" books, however, the above does tend to be true:
Because boys think they're "just surviving" in their worlds, boys children's-books tend to be either "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" sitcoms, or dark borderline-YA novels like Maximum Ride or The Chocolate War. Nobody can quite picture how a boy hero would use his imagination to get by, unlike the girls who manage to have interesting things happen to them because their heroines make a bigger deal of standing up for themselves.

(And yes, nice to see the bottom photo remember the WMT Adventures of Peter Pan, as I used to watch that on digisub:
The first season was a reasonably anime-faithful Easternization of the Disney story, until they came to the end of the book, and the second season had to make up new anime-series adventures. And then things got a little creative...)
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#861208



Joined: 07 Oct 2016
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:40 pm Reply with quote
None of these seem nearly as interesting as the books, and I'm not even into that sort of book.

STRAIN was awful. And I never want to have to sit through OZMAFIA. Yes. Oz. Mafia. It exists. ...why?
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:29 pm Reply with quote
John Thacker wrote:
Quote:
there's a further complication that the [Wizard of Oz] novel contains numerous political references that are largely lost today


Well, it has a few comments that aren't any more difficult than outdated language in other works, and then there's the Henry Littlefield theory, which itself dates to 1964, of the whole thing being a big political allegory about populism, right? It's a fascinating paper and has certainly enriched Oz study and made for some debate (much like Stanley Fish's Surprised by Sin's effect on Milton studies and Paradise Lost), but it's still quite controversial. It's that paper and the resulting scholarship that helped "take Oz out of the hands of kids," you might say, but while the theory is very interesting, I'm not convinced that the tale really has a "political origin" in Baum's mind, as opposed to an interesting interpretation put on it later.


If you read Baum's own essays on his books, he had a surprisingly ahead-of-his-time idea about what children wanted to read and what "needed" to be written for them.
Although it's said that Baum's mother-in-law was an ardent early Suffragette, which accounts for a lot of jokes about Oz's "modern" society vs. our own ("No witches in your country? It must be very uncivilized"), as well as the whole satirical plot with General Jinjur in Marvelous Land of Oz. Also, the idea that since everything grows on trees in Oz, it's a non-economic Utopia, and everyone's happy to mind their own business.

Baum very much had the idea that he was the "first American children's author", and wanted to do something for the kids--
He often wrote that most of the books 1890's kids were reading were English Victorian ones, like Alice, Robin Hood and Treasure Island, and that there was no sense of Yankee enterprise outside of Twain and Tom Sawyer. And certainly no American fantasy either, as Baum's non-Oz stories believed they were singlehandedly creating "new Mother Goose and new Wonderland".
He even weighed in on the whole Alice-vs.-Dorothy confusion/debate, and thought that while kids don't quite get all the jokes in Alice, and find it a bit confusing, they liked both heroines for being independent "real" kids to identify with, who manage to hold their own with crazy adult characters.
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whiskeyii



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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 2:57 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
I love Rafael Sabatini - his Peter Blood books are among my favorites - and other old pulp authors, like James Oliver Curwood or the much tamer Joseph Lincoln. I think I first read Treasure Island when I was seven or eight too. But I am seeing it being kept from kids that age now, generally being saved for high school alongside things like Lord of the Flies. It's not a trend I like.


I picked up Lord of the Flies when I was a middle-schooler, determined to read through every item on our school's "Banned Book" list--sanctioned, of course, during National Reading Month. Laughing Out of everything I read, I think Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Briar Rose by Jane Yolen were the only ones I found honestly distressing on some level; Speak for its spoiler[rape] and Briar Rose for it's (to me), out-of-nowhere spoiler[Holocaust imagery].

I will say that while it was much easier for me to understand Lord of the Flies as a high schooler when I had to read it non-voluntarily for an assignment, I do think the language is simple enough for middle schoolers to grasp. And despite all my sarcastic quips to prove that I was far too cool (read grown-up) to be bothered by such ideas, I did at least pick up on all that cannibalism and what not on my first go. But Treasure Island is fairly simple; having it on the same "do not want" list as LotF seems bizarre to me.
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Princess_Irene



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Location: The castle beyond the Goblin City
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:19 pm Reply with quote
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is hands-down one of the most disturbing books I've ever read, even though I knew what I was getting into. Amazing way to retell "Sleeping Beauty," but wow.

Books get banned (or challenged) for a variety of stupid reasons - just look at the lists collected by the ALA. I'm still having trouble grasping that anyone could call Reina Telgemeir's Drama "sexually explicit" or that George, one of the most heartfelt middle grade novels of recent years, is "inappropriate." There's a joke article (at least I hope it's a joke) about why Treasure Island might be banned, and it does show how far people will go in their mania.

When I was still teaching high school, I found the transcripts of the PTA meeting when they decided to ban Brave New World. It was scary stuff - everything from "promotes promiscuity and drug use" to "unchristian." (Mind you, this is the school district where I actually got checked for horns as the first Jew they'd ever seen, but still.)
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EricJ2



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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:35 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is hands-down one of the most disturbing books I've ever read, even though I knew what I was getting into. Amazing way to retell "Sleeping Beauty," but wow.


I've worked in children's books, and if you think Yolen's writing is overdone, pretentious and overbearingly ambitious, just wait till you meet her in person.
Personally narcissistic, velvet-rope with her fans, and genre-messianic to the point of "Imagine if Hillary Clinton became a Game of Thrones fangirl..."
(I was on the online communities back in the day, and oh, just try mentioning my name to her...) Twisted Evil

Quote:
Books get banned (or challenged) for a variety of stupid reasons - just look at the lists collected by the ALA. I'm still having trouble grasping that anyone could call Reina Telgemeir's Drama "sexually explicit" or that George, one of the most heartfelt middle grade novels of recent years, is "inappropriate." There's a joke article (at least I hope it's a joke) about why Treasure Island might be banned, and it does show how far people will go in their mania.

When I was still teaching high school, I found the transcripts of the PTA meeting when they decided to ban Brave New World. It was scary stuff - everything from "promotes promiscuity and drug use" to "unchristian." (Mind you, this is the school district where I actually got checked for horns as the first Jew they'd ever seen, but still.)


Not to mention that book-banning Brave New World would be considered ironic... Razz
(And that the "Horns" thing can be traced back to a goof in the Greek translation of the OT, that nobody's bothered to correct in the last 500 years.)

Although some red-state PTA's deliberately pick on beloved children's books (Oz has good witches!) just to pick fights, get the press, and then play "persecution" when more reasonable discussion starts protesting.
As a result, more schools just try to avoid controversy altogether, and just give in on most parent demands, hands down. Which, unfortunately, applies to more than just books.


Last edited by EricJ2 on Fri May 19, 2017 7:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Parsifal24



Joined: 20 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 3:51 pm Reply with quote
Princess_Irene wrote:
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen is hands-down one of the most disturbing books I've ever read, even though I knew what I was getting into. Amazing way to retell "Sleeping Beauty," but wow.

When I was still teaching high school, I found the transcripts of the PTA meeting when they decided to ban Brave New World. It was scary stuff - everything from "promotes promiscuity and drug use" to "unchristian." (Mind you, this is the school district where I actually got checked for horns as the first Jew they'd ever seen, but still.)


Well looks like I'll have to give Briar Rose a read if somebody says something disturbs them I want to read it. I mean I read American Psycho purely because of the controversy surrounding it I didn't finish it but I attempted to read it..

That's odd about Brave New World I actually credit that book along with Dostoyevsky's Crime And Punishment and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina with leading me down the long road to eventual conversion to Christianity.

Also I rember horns growing out of your head being a thing Mormons used to joke about back when I was Mormon. I never heard of Jews being thought to possess horns sorry to hear that happened
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