Saturday, March 21, 2009

Literary Threads

In the March 18, 2009 edition of our local paper, the Register Guard, the following items appeared:

Anti-logger school book replaced in Grants Pass
Loggers made a dramatic transition from tree-killing litterers to kindhearted animal lovers in a “Help the Forest” textbook for first-graders at Grants Pass schools.

An eight-page book was replaced with a decidedly rosier version after the original copy generated criticism for its negative portrayal of loggers.

Parents objected to a spread in the book that showed loggers chopping down trees and various bits of litter on the ground. The text on page 6 read: “These people do not take care of the forest. They cut down huge trees. They drop trash on the ground.” That was followed on Page 7 by: “The trees are gone. The birds cannot find homes. The animals cannot find food.”

After much protesting, things were changed and the book was revised:
These people take care of huge forests. They put out fires. They cut down sick trees. Then new trees can be planted. Animals will still have homes. They will still find food.”

The illustrations, too, have changed. Rather than a trash-littered forest floor, the new edition shows a firefighter and a tree planter, and in a tree there’s a bear.

Less contentious, this item also appeared: Friends of the readers :Volunteers prepare for the annual library benefit book sale Interesting observation from the library volunteers who handle the books; books about visiting Asia are plentiful.

Disturbing was this national item on book removal, due to lead content in printer's ink. The item in the Register Guard is titled "Is lead in ink dangerous in children's books? Maybe" but the MSNBC gives us this:(since it's national, the local paper on-line doesn't have an electronic version available) "Group wants vintage kids books off the shelves:Consumer Product Safety Commission worries tomes may contain lead" It's disturbing not because of lead in ink, but for the portent of book banning, suppression, censorship, fascism, -- just a hint of lead-in to things to come.

The story comes from Jefferson City, Mo, and asks if vintage editions could be a problem, due to lead content in ink.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has raised that possibility in urging the nation’s libraries to take children’s books printed before 1986 off their shelves while the federal agency investigates whether the ink contains unsafe levels of lead.

Are we going to see books printed before 1986 outlawed, considered a health or environmental hazard? According to the article, a couple of libraries reacted with a strange sense of enthusiasm:
One roped off the children’s section; the other covered children’s books with a tarp. Both libraries, which she declined to identify, stopped after being contacted by the association, she said.

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