Books

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Audiobooks could help supercharge your hearing

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">With more than 400,000 audiobooks available to download on your device of choice, their appeal continues to grow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But for those who have trouble hearing, audiobooks can seem like a hard way to enjoy a good book. Whether your hearing has been affected since you were young or it has started to decline more recently, audiobooks can be more helpful than you might realise.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you want to improve your hearing skills, you might be considering - or have already started - an auditory training program. You might be a candidate for auditory training if you are getting a hearing aid for the first time or have trouble understanding speech despite having ‘normal’ hearing, a condition called “hidden hearing loss”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Currently, specialised programs and smartphone apps are available and are designed to feel like a video game when you interact with them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For those of us who like a good story and dramatic voices, audiobooks are a great candidate for auditory training while enjoying literature.</span></p> <p><strong>Why audiobooks?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since hearing is about recognising </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">and</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> interpreting sounds, Nancy Tye-Murray, AuD and professor at Washington University School of Medicine, says audiobooks help us exercise “those linguistic areas of your brain that are crucial for comprehension”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You can also use them to practise listening to and understanding foreign accents or multiple people speaking at the same time - minus the social pressure and with the option to rewind anytime.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Those with hearing aids can even stream audiobooks directly into their hearing aids via Bluetooth, depending on how advanced the technology is.</span></p> <p><strong>How to get started</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Rather than diving into the deep end, you can find an audio version of a book you own a physical copy of, meaning that you can read and listen simultaneously.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Tye-Murray, it’s best to start off in a quiet space and by listening to a book with a male narrator, since lower pitches are usually easier to hear.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Adjusting the speed can also help, starting at a lower speed than normal speech and increasing it as your skills improve.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But before you pick up your physical book, Tye-Murray recommends listening at a slower speed without reading along “until you’re comfortable with changing to normal speed”.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Start really paying attention to how much you comprehend,” she said. “After you finish listening to a chapter, you might jot down a few sentences that capture the essence of the chapter” to help you strengthen your brain’s comprehension muscles.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Once you’re comfortable with lower pitched voices, you could choose one narrated by a woman and repeat the same steps.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Since listening can be tiring, it’s important to pace yourself too. 20 minutes to half an hour is a good place to start and you can always rewind if you lose focus.</span></p>

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In 20 years of award-winning picture books, non-white people made up just 12% of main characters

<p>A highlight for Australian children’s literature is the announcements of the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year award winners. This year’s winners will be announced on Friday October 16 — right before the start of CBCA’s Book Week on October 19.</p> <p>Making the <a href="https://cbca.org.au/shortlist-2020">shortlist</a> brings great exposure for the books and their creators. The shortlisted books are put on special display in public school libraries and supermarket shelves. They are even made into teaching <a href="https://petaa.edu.au/w/Teaching_Resources/CBCA2020/2020_CBCA_Guide.aspx">resources</a>, suggesting an exploration of the book’s themes, for instance.</p> <p>Crucially, award lists contribute to the “canon” of literary works that become widely read. This canon is distributed through libraries, schools and homes. Sometimes, benevolent relatives <a href="https://theconversation.com/5-reasons-i-always-get-children-picture-books-for-christmas-127801">give them as gifts</a>.</p> <p>We investigated the diversity — including ethnicity, gender and sexuality — of the 118 shortlisted books in the early childhood category of Book of the Year between 2001 and 2020. We also examined diversity among the 103 authors and illustrators who have made the shortlist over the past 20 years.</p> <p>Our yet unpublished study found most (88%) human main characters in the shortlisted books were white; none of the main characters were Asian, Black or Middle Eastern.</p> <h2>Why diversity matters</h2> <p>The <a href="https://cbca.org.au/">CBCA</a> was formed in 1945, as a national not-for-profit organisation promoting children’s literary experiences and supporting Australian writers and illustrators. The first awards began in 1946.</p> <p>There were originally three categories for Book of the Year: older readers, younger readers and picture book.</p> <p>In 2001, “early childhood” was added as a category. This was for picture books for children up to six years old.</p> <p>Picture books are significant for not only developing early literacy skills, but also for the messages and values they convey about society. They <a href="https://www.betterreading.com.au/podcast/new-6-part-podcast-series-a-conversation-about-diversity-in-childrens-books/">help children learn about their world</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p>The diversity children see represented in that world <a href="https://theconversation.com/bias-starts-early-most-books-in-childcare-centres-have-white-middle-class-heroes-130208">affects their sense of belonging and inclusion</a>. At this age, cultural values and bias settle in and become the foundation for how we develop. These values and biases have a profound influence on our successes and struggles in our adult lives.</p> <h2>A positive for gender diversity, but not ethnicity</h2> <p>We used visual content analysis to examine ethnic diversity, we well as gender, disability, sexuality and linguistic variation in the 118 early childhood category shortlisted books — between 2001 and 2020.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/363296/original/file-20201013-13-1teg5bo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/363296/original/file-20201013-13-1teg5bo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="The cover of picture book Go Home Cheeky Animals" /></a> <span class="caption">Illustrator Dion Beasley.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/picture-books/Go-Home-Cheeky-Animals-Johanna-Bell-illustrated-by-Dion-Beasley-9781760291655" class="source">Allen &amp; Unwin</a></span></p> <p>We also examined diversity among the 103 authors and illustrators who have made the shortlist over the past 20 years. Only one person — Alywarr illustrator Dion Beasley, from the Northern Territory, and winner in 2017 for <a href="https://cbca.org.au/book/go-home-cheeky-animals">Go Home Cheeky Animals</a> — identifies as Indigenous.</p> <p>Female authors and illustrators, however, were more represented (66%) than male (34%).</p> <p>Looking at the picture books, we first identified four major types of characters: human (52.5%), animal (41.5%), object (4.4%) and imaginary (1.4%).</p> <p>We then distinguished between main characters and those in supporting roles that make up the story world in which the main characters act.</p> <p>One of the most encouraging findings was the gender parity among main characters. We identified 52 solo human main characters across all 118 books. Fifty-one of these are children, with 25 boy and 24 girl main characters (two main characters were not identified by gender).</p> <p> </p> <p>This placed boys and girls equally in the role of the protagonist, which stands in contrast to <a href="https://theconversation.com/i-looked-at-100-best-selling-picture-books-female-protagonists-were-largely-invisible-115843">previous research looking at best-selling picture books</a>.</p> <p>But in terms of ethnicity, the human main characters are overwhelmingly white (88%). There are just two Indigenous main characters and one who is multiracial. There have been no Asian, Black or Middle Eastern main characters.</p> <p>Looking at the wider story world, supporting characters are still overwhelmingly white. But this world does marginally include characters of Asian, Black and Middle Eastern heritage. Overall, human characters appear in 85 (72%) of the 118 books.</p> <p>White characters appear in 74 of these books, and only nine books have no white characters. Non-white characters appear in a total of 18 books (21%).</p> <p>Our results for ethnic diversity don’t correlate well with the <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/migration-australia/latest-release">latest Australian census data</a> (from 2016). The cultural heritage of Australia’s population is described as: 76.8% white, 10% East and Southeast Asian, 4.6% South Asian, 3.1% West Asian and Arabic, 2.8% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, 1.5% Maori and Pacific Islander, 0.7% African, 0.6% Latin American.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/362846/original/file-20201012-12-21c85x.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/362846/original/file-20201012-12-21c85x.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="" /></a> <span class="caption">The 2020 Early Childhood Book of the Year shortlist.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://cbca.org.au/shortlist-2020" class="source">CBCA/Screenshot</a></span></p> <p>The CBCA early childhood shortlist minimally represents other forms of diversity. We see only two main characters living with a disability and no characters who are sexually and gender diverse.</p> <h2>Other types of diversity</h2> <p>Linguistic variation is also minimal, in only four books, which does not reflect the linguistic diversity of the wider Australian population.</p> <p>In response to our queries regarding their judging criteria, the CBCA said:</p> <blockquote> <p>we do not select books for entry into our awards. It is the publishers and creators who select the books for entry. Our main criterion is literary merit, we do not actively exclude diversity, themes or genre.</p> </blockquote> <p>Only two of the six 2020 shortlisted books in the early childhood category have human main characters. And these are both white.</p> <p>The age of zero to six years is a crucial stage of development. It is important for young readers to see people and surroundings that are like their own to cultivate a sense of belonging. It is equally important to see a different world they are not familiar with.</p> <p> </p> <p>If award-winning books sit at the top of reading lists, these books also need to embrace and reflect the full and rich diversity that makes up our country.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/147026/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/helen-caple-730360">Helen Caple</a>, Associate Professor, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-1414">UNSW</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ping-tian-1124969">Ping Tian</a>, Lecturer , <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/in-20-years-of-award-winning-picture-books-non-white-people-made-up-just-12-of-main-characters-147026">original article</a>.</em></p>

Books

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Claims Meghan Markle copied her children's book

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Meghan Markle delighted fans after announcing this week that she was writing her first children's book called<span> </span><em>The Bench</em>.</p> <p>The book is based on a Father's Day poem that Markle wrote after the birth of Archie.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Meghan, Duchess of Sussex has written a children's book for <a href="https://twitter.com/PenguinUKBooks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PenguinUKBooks</a>' Random House called The Bench, about the “special bond between father and son as seen through a mother’s eyes”! More here: <a href="https://t.co/ZWcRhWj2Or">https://t.co/ZWcRhWj2Or</a> <a href="https://t.co/IuZkcAj4cF">pic.twitter.com/IuZkcAj4cF</a></p> — The Bookseller (@thebookseller) <a href="https://twitter.com/thebookseller/status/1389598440275992582?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 4, 2021</a></blockquote> <p>However, fans on Twitter pointed out that the book is really similar to another book called<span> </span><em>The Boy on The Bench</em>.</p> <p>One person tweeted: "Almost identical to Corrinne Averiss book 'The Boy On the Bench', even the cover."</p> <p>"I hope the author she ripped off is going to sue her, the cheek of this woman! The Boy on the Bench by Corrinne Averiss," another tweeted.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Almost Identical to Corrinne Averiss book “The Boy,on the Bench” Even the cover, identical 😠😠 <a href="https://t.co/C7p1o3n3Uy">https://t.co/C7p1o3n3Uy</a></p> — Lielikealady (@JudithNeile) <a href="https://twitter.com/JudithNeile/status/1389772937402601474?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 5, 2021</a></blockquote> <p>Averiss herself spoke out on the issue and slammed claims that the books are similar.</p> <p>"Reading the description and published excerpt of the Duchess's new book, this is not the same story or the same theme as The Boy on the Bench," she tweeted.</p> <p>Adding: "I don't see any similarities."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr">Reading the description and published excerpt of the Duchess’s new book, this is not the same story or the same theme as The Boy on the Bench. I don’t see any similarities.</p> — Corrinne Averiss (@CorrinneAveriss) <a href="https://twitter.com/CorrinneAveriss/status/1389918927073988608?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 5, 2021</a></blockquote> <p><em>The Bench</em><span> </span>will be published by Random House Children's Books in the US and distributed in Australia, New Zealand and other countries via Penguin Random House.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

Books

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Meghan Markle's newest Archie-inspired venture

<p>Meghan Markle is an actress, entrepreneur, royal member, L.A. mum and now she is a children’s author.</p> <p>The royal has written her first book, inspired by Prince Harry and their son, Archie.</p> <p>Titled<span> </span><em>The Bench,<span> </span></em>Meghan tells the story of the bond that eternally lives between a father and his son.</p> <p>So far, book published Penguin Random House UK has released the cover and two inside pages.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841064/prince-harry-meghan-book-3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c806f6950a644c7eb43a4b95eceb8fa9" /></p> <p>In the book, featured are a diverse group of dads and their growing boys who connect by enjoying the pleasures life has to offer.</p> <p>“<em>The Bench</em><span> </span>started as a poem I wrote for my husband on Father’s Day, the month after Archie was born. That poem became this story,” Meghan said.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841063/prince-harry-meghan-book-4.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/459b69abc8f449399ff6db3ac7bf42e8" /></p> <p>She went on to say, “Christian layered in beautiful and ethereal watercolour illustrations that capture the warmth, joy and comfort of the relationship between fathers and sons from all walks of life.</p> <p>“This representation was particularly important to me and Christian and I worked closely to depict this special bond through an inclusive lens.</p> <p>“My hope is that<span> </span><em>The Bench</em><span> </span>resonates with every family, no matter the make up, as much as it does with me.”<br /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7841062/prince-harry-meghan-book-5.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/597eebe78cf649f68b8e20f4edc17661" /></p> <p><em>The Bench,</em><span> </span>which costs $24, will be released June 8.</p> <p>Prince Harry and Meghan share one child together, Archie, who turns two on May 6.</p> <p>The couple are set to welcome their baby girl during the warm summer months.</p>

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Young people learn about relationships from media.

<p>Chanel Contos’ <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/national/hundreds-of-sydney-students-claim-they-were-sexually-assaulted-and-call-for-better-consent-education-20210219-p57449.html">recent petition</a> called for an overhaul of sexual education at schools and for consent to be taught earlier on, and better.</p> <p>Adequate, formal sexual education is important for young people, but discussions about consent can take place in many situations outside the sex education classroom and outside of school.</p> <p>Novels, films and plays create a unique way of engaging with and learning about different issues.</p> <p>But children’s literature <a href="https://muse.jhu.edu/article/247395/summary">includes ideas and beliefs</a> young people may absorb subconsciously. This can be dangerous if readers don’t actively engage with, or interrogate actions on the page. In this way, they are passive and may just come to believe the book’s message — be it appropriate or not.</p> <p>In a <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-07532-002">2006 study</a>, researchers interviewed 272 teenagers and found they internalised “scripts” about relationships and sexuality. The researchers wrote dynamics between characters “become so internalised and automatic that adolescents may become quite non-reflective about behaviours”.</p> <p>This suggests some audiences fail to critique the messages they are consuming. The researchers also found young women in particular became involved in narratives.</p> <p>Because teenagers <a href="https://theconversation.com/honest-and-subtle-writing-about-sex-in-young-adult-literature-48002">are learning about sexuality and relationships from the texts they consume</a> — whether they be books, plays or movies — equipping parents and teachers to tackle these topics is essential.</p> <p> </p> <p>The <a href="https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/curriculum/vce/vce-study-designs/english-and-eal/Pages/index.aspx">Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority</a> produces <a href="https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/vce/english/2020_Text_List_EnglishEAL.docx">a list</a> of books teachers can select from for English in year 12.</p> <p>Two texts from the list — Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and the 1954 film <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047396/">Rear Window</a> — are great examples to show how teachers and parents can begin conversations with young people about consent. Each text provides an opportunity to interact with these issues without reading or viewing explicit scenes.</p> <h2>Pride and Prejudice and a woman’s agency</h2> <p>It’s important for young people to see real life sexual situations and to learn from them. But the topics of consent and power imbalances still appear in books and movies that don’t use explicit sex scenes. Seeing the broader context of consent in real life allows for exploring some of the more nuanced issues such as cultural pressures and gender expectations.</p> <p>For instance, English teachers and parents can use Jane Austen’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1885.Pride_and_Prejudice">Pride and Prejudice</a> to launch a discussion around consent.</p> <p>A key aspect of consent is a person’s ability to actually say yes or no, and be believed. When a person’s agency is limited, their ability to actively consent is compromised. In some cases, a person’s gender can negatively impact their agency. This is the case with Elizabeth Bennett.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/396696/original/file-20210423-21-1tmfe7y.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/396696/original/file-20210423-21-1tmfe7y.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" alt="Keira Knightley and Tom Hollander in Pride and Prejudice" /></a> <span class="caption">Mr Collins doesn’t trust Elizabeth Bennett when she says no.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414387/mediaviewer/rm1141155328/" class="source">IMDB</a></span></p> <p>Let’s take the scene between William Collins and Elizabeth. As he proposes marriage and she refuses, Collins claims it is “the established custom of [her] sex to reject a man”, implying her refusal is customary rather than one of will.</p> <p>Lizzie responds by saying: “You must give me leave to judge for myself, and pay me the compliment of believing what I say”. In other words, why won’t you take no for an answer?</p> <p>Collins says he will not be “discouraged” by her clear refusal, and Lizzie again requests the “compliment of being believed sincere”. Collins then states that the “express authority” of her “excellent parents” will result in their marriage.</p> <p>Collins does not trust Lizzie’s word because she is a woman, and he believes her father will force her to comply. Her ability to say no is complicated by the fact she is a woman.</p> <hr /> <p><em> <strong> Read more: <a href="https://theconversation.com/four-in-ten-australians-think-women-lie-about-being-victims-of-sexual-assault-107363">Four in ten Australians think women lie about being victims of sexual assault</a> </strong> </em></p> <hr /> <p>Teachers and parents could begin to interrogate this scene by asking:</p> <ul> <li> <p>why does Mr Collins not believe in Lizzie’s right to say no?</p> </li> <li> <p>do you think our modern society encourages similar views?</p> </li> <li> <p>what gives Lizzie’s father the right to say yes on her behalf?</p> </li> <li> <p>do you think we value particular voices over others?</p> </li> <li> <p>do you believe women when they say yes, or no?</p> </li> </ul> <p>This one moment in the text could begin conversations around society’s view on female agency and believing women.</p> <h2>Rear Window and the male gaze</h2> <p><a href="https://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/exams/english/2020/2020VCEEnglishexaminationreport.docx">The most popular text in the 2020 English exam</a>, Rear Window, is told from the perspective of Jeff — a man in a wheelchair. Everything is viewed through his apartment window. The film <a href="https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-does-the-male-gaze-mean-and-what-about-a-female-gaze-52486">raises questions about the male gaze</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p>Critics of the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film have <a href="https://sites.psu.edu/comm150honors/2016/02/27/rear-window-violating-women-one-gaze-at-a-time/">discussed the many ways</a> Jeff violates women’s agency, especially in his treatment of Miss Torso.</p> <p>To begin conversations about consent in Rear Window, I would discuss the film’s portrayal of Miss Torso.</p> <p>As her nickname would suggest, Miss Torso is characterised almost entirely by her appearance. Jeff sees her dancing often and entertaining men. He sexualises Miss Torso even though he does not know her, and has never spoken to her.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/I3uo8sd_xBc?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe> <span class="caption">Miss Torso is characterised almost entirely by her appearance.</span></p> <p>Interestingly, when Jeff catches Detective Doyle leering at Miss Torso, he asks “How’s your wife?” Jeff identifies the inappropriateness of Doyle’s gaze, but not his own.</p> <p>Teachers or parents could ask students:</p> <ul> <li> <p>does Jeff have a right to watch Miss Torso?</p> </li> <li> <p>who is responsible for the way he views her?</p> </li> <li> <p>although Jeff does not assault Miss Torso, how is she a victim?</p> </li> <li> <p>how might Miss Torso react to knowing she was being watched?</p> </li> <li> <p>what does our society think about victim blaming?</p> </li> </ul> <p>These two texts can be used to start discussions in school classrooms and around dining tables. The <a href="https://www.whatworks.co.za/resources/evidence-reviews/item/664-community-activism-approaches-to-shift-harmful-gender-attitudes-roles-and-social-norms">evidence</a> shows entrenched ideas that contribute to violence and sexual assault need to be tackled through critical reflections about gender, relationships and sexuality.</p> <p>Literature includes a rich array of ways to get teens talking about the tough issues.</p> <p> </p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/elizabeth-little-855383">Elizabeth Little</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/young-people-learn-about-relationships-from-media-you-can-use-books-and-movies-to-start-discussions-158784">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Want to start a book club? Here’s how

<p><strong>Finding fellow readers</strong></p> <p>Ask around your existing personal networks, including neighbours, friends, social media, or a community noticeboard.</p> <p>Once you mention you want to start a club, you’ll be surprised how many people may want to come along.</p> <p>Ask at your local bookshop and library for ideas – many run regular reading groups and can point you in the right direction for good books.</p> <p>Identify what common interests you and your group have and use these to help draw like-minded people.</p> <p>Once you start looking, you’ll find book clubs for men or women, seniors, sci-fi lovers, teenagers or cookery buffs.</p> <p><strong>The time, the place</strong></p> <p>Once you have a group, agree on how often you want to meet – typically clubs meet monthly, though the time-poor may want to make it bi-monthly.</p> <p>For many clubs, meeting at home works best as you don’t have to get dressed up, and noisy public venues can make talking hard.</p> <p>If members bring a plate of food or a bottle, it takes the pressure off the host.</p> <p>But try rotating your meeting location as this will help to stimulate fresh thoughts.</p> <p><strong>Be inspired</strong></p> <p><span>Tailor your venue according to the book’s subject matter. </span>The Light Between the Oceans<span> by M.L. Stedman was discussed over fish’n’chips by one club, while </span>The Red Tent<span> by Anita Diamant was chewed over at a Middle Eastern restaurant.</span></p> <p><span>Here’s how to get your book club off to a flying start.</span></p> <p><strong>Size</strong><strong> matters</strong></p> <p><span>According to Christine Callen, a book club veteran of 15 years, you need a minimum number of people per meeting to make it interesting. “Seven is the magic number – fewer and there’s not enough for healthy debate,” she says. “You can have ten people in the club – not everyone will be able to make it every time – seven provides enough opinions.”</span></p> <p><strong>Choosing the books</strong></p> <p> </p> <p>If you’re the club instigator, it’s easier if you pick the first book.</p> <p>Seek out book reviews in good magazines and newspapers and at bookshops.</p> <p>The flavour of the books you choose will be largely dictated by the personalities attending – you might like to have a wide range of genres from sci-fi to romance to travel epics.</p> <p>Or stick to one genre, such as history books.</p> <p>Decide on a strategy and a time frame – say five to 12 books across the year – then review how everything appeals to the majority.</p> <p>Take turns to come up with a list of four or five titles, then circulate the list via email shortly after your last discussion.</p> <p>Members can then vote on their preferred next book and meeting time.</p> <p>The member scheduled to host the next meeting coordinates the responses to decide the title and date most voted for.</p> <p><strong>Starting discussion</strong></p> <p>Callen recommends beginning by asking all members to briefly give their opinion on the book.</p> <p>“Everyone arrives and has a drink to loosen up,” she explains.</p> <p>“Then we take it in turns to go around the room and each give the book a mark out of ten, saying in a few sentences what we liked or disliked about it. This gives everyone a chance to speak early in the night and stops one person dominating the conversation from the start.”</p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by <span>Jenny Byrne</span></span><span style="font-weight: 400;">. This article first appeared in </span><a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/articles/book-club/want-to-start-a-book-club-heres-how"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Reader’s Digest</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </span><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.com.au/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V"><span style="font-weight: 400;">here’s our best subscription offer.</span></a></em></p>

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Heroes, villains ... biology: 3 reasons comic books are great science teachers

<p>People may think of comics and science as worlds apart, but they have been cross-pollinating each other in more than ways than one.</p> <p>Many classic comic book characters are inspired by biology such as Spider-Man, Ant-Man and Poison Ivy. And they can act as educational tools to gain some fun facts about the natural world.</p> <p>Some superheroes have scientific careers alongside their alter egos. For example, Marvel’s <a href="https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/61755/the_unstoppable_wasp_2017_1">The Unstoppable Wasp</a> is a teenage scientist. And DC Comics’ super-villain <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poison_Ivy_(character)">Poison Ivy</a> is a botanist who saved honey bees from colony collapse.</p> <p>Superheroes have also crept into the world of taxonomy, with animals being named after famous comic book characters. These include a <a href="https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2020/Deadpool-fly-among-new-species-named-by-CSIRO%22%22">robber fly</a> named after the Marvel character Deadpool (whose mask looks like the markings on the fly’s back) and a <a href="https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2019/07/12/a-fish-called-wakanda-a-new-species-of-fairy-wrasse.html">fish</a> after Marvel hero Black Panther.</p> <p>I am a PhD student researching bee behaviour and I have spent most of my university life working at a comic book store. Here’s how superheroes could be used to make biology, and other types of science, more intriguing to school students.</p> <h2>1. They’re engaging</h2> <p>Reading has a range of benefits, <a href="https://theconversation.com/if-you-can-only-do-one-thing-for-your-children-it-should-be-shared-reading-95146">from improved vocabulary</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/read-aloud-to-your-children-to-boost-their-vocabulary-111427">comprehension and mathematics skills, to increased empathy and creativity</a>.</p> <p>While it’s hard to directly prove the advantages of comics over other forms of reading, they <a href="https://jcom.sissa.it/archive/17/01/JCOM_1701_2018_Y01#:%7E:text=Combining%20the%20benefits%20of%20visualization,engaging%20for%20a%20wider%20audience.">can be engaging</a>, easy to understand learning tools.</p> <p>Comics <a href="https://www.lifescied.org/doi/full/10.1187/cbe.10-07-0090">have similar benefits</a> to classic textbooks in terms of understanding course content. But they can be more captivating.</p> <p>A study of 114 business students showed they <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1080569913482574">preferred</a> graphic novels over classic textbooks for learning course content.</p> <p>In another <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3164570/">study in the United States</a>, college biology students were given either a textbook or a graphic novel — <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3151324-optical-allusions">Optical Allusions</a> by scientist Jay Hosler, that follows a character discovering the science of vision — as supplementary reading for their biology course.</p> <p>Both groups of students showed similar increases in course knowledge, but students who were given the graphic novel showed an increased interest in the course.</p> <p><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/392175/original/file-20210329-19-gob8ew.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/392175/original/file-20210329-19-gob8ew.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" alt="Front cover of the Unstoppable Wasp." /></a> <span class="caption">The Unstoppable Wasp is a teenage scientist.</span> <span class="attribution"><a href="https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/61755/the_unstoppable_wasp_2017_1" class="source">Marvel</a></span></p> <p>So, comics can be used to engage students, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11165-013-9358-x">especially those who aren’t very interested in science</a>.</p> <p>Educational comics such as the <a href="https://us.macmillan.com/series/sciencecomics/">Science Comics series</a>, Jay Hosler’s <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780063007376/the-way-of-the-hive/">The Way of the Hive</a> and Abby Howard’s <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/series/257878-earth-before-us">Earth Before Us</a> series frequently have a narrative structure with a story consisting of a beginning, middle and resolution.</p> <p>Students often find information inside storytelling easier to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09523987.2017.1324361">comprehend</a> than when it’s provided matter-of-factly, such as in textbooks. As readers follow a story, they can use key information they have learnt along the way to understand and interpret the resolution.</p> <h2>2. They teach important concepts</h2> <p>In science-related comic books, as the story unfolds, scientific concepts are often sprinkled in along the way. For example, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29102867-science-comics">Science Comics: Bats</a>, follows a bat going through a rehabilitation clinic while suffering from a broken wing. The reader learns about different bat species and their ecology on this journey.</p> <p>Comics also have the advantage of <a href="https://blog.heinemann.com/author-gene-yang-graphic-novels-classroom">permanance</a>, meaning students can read, revisit and understand panels at their own pace.</p> <p>Many science comics, including Optical Allusions, are written by scientists, allowing for reliable facts.</p> <div data-react-class="Tweet" data-react-props="{&quot;tweetId&quot;:&quot;1367457735734751234&quot;}"></div> <p>Using storytelling can also <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00094056.2018.1540189">humanise scientists</a> by creating relatable characters throughout comics. Some graphic novels showcase <a href="http://www.amnh.org/ology/features/wonderfulworldofwasps/comic/">scientific</a> careers and can be a great tool for removing stereotypes of the lab coat wearing scientist. For example, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wick’s graphic novels <a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250062932">Primates</a> and <a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/astronauts-jim-ottaviani/book/9781626728776.html">Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier</a> showcase female scientists in labs, the field and even space.</p> <p>The Marvel series’ Unstoppable Wasp also includes interviews with female scientists at the end of each issue.</p> <h2>3. They can give a visual insight into strange worlds</h2> <p>Imagery combined with an easy to follow narrative structure can also give a look into worlds that may otherwise be hard to visualise. For example, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31144997-science-comics">Science Comics: Plagues</a>, and the Manga series, <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29844802-cells-at-work-vol-1">Cells at Work!</a>, are told from the point of view of microbes and cells in the body.</p> <p>Imagery can also show life cycles of animals that are potentially dangerous, or difficult to encounter, such as a honeybee colony, which was visualised through <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/506636.Clan_Apis">Clan Apis</a>.</p> <p><iframe width="440" height="260" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TR5OXhBjbVk?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></p> <p><em>The author would like to acknowledge neuroscientist and cartoonist <a href="https://matteofarinella.com/">Matteo Farinella</a>, whose advice helped shape this article.</em><!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/143251/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><span><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/caitlyn-forster-1034177">Caitlyn Forster</a>, PhD Candidate, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-sydney-841">University of Sydney</a></em></span></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/heroes-villains-biology-3-reasons-comic-books-are-great-science-teachers-143251">original article</a>.</p>

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5 gripping memoirs by women with grit

<h2>1. Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sonali Deraniyagala’s devastating memoir recounts the unthinkable losses she endured during the 2004 Sri Lankan tsunami. She’s on holiday with her parents, husband, and two young children when everything changes forever. With generous clarity she relays a peaceful, normal morning, and then the confusion that turns to horror as the wave comes in. Deraniyagala’s account takes you through unbearable, agonising losses. Her straightforward narration pulls you close to what would otherwise remain unimaginable.</span></p> <h2>2. The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Joan Wickersham’s riveting memoir goes over the circumstances of her father’s unexpected death by his own hand. She artfully captures the enigma of this unbearable act and its aftermath. In doing so, she takes the reader along on her attempt to make sense of her father’s passing. She structures her book like an index as a way to organise her father’s life and understand its mysteries. Wickersham’s beautifully haunting narration keeps you riveted.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/65-books-everyone-should-read-before-they-die"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are 65 books everyone should read before they die</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <h2>3. Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If Sarah McBride’s name sounds familiar, it’s because she just made history (or, herstory) as the first-ever transgender person elected to the United States Senate. Sworn into office in January 2021, she’s also the National Press Secretary of the Human Rights Campaign. Before she ran for office, she wrote this moving book, telling her own coming-out story, her journey into activism, and her husband’s tragic battle with cancer. Also, not for nothing, but now-President Joe Biden wrote the foreword.</span></p> <h2>4. I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The screenwriter responsible for </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Silkwood</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">When Harry Met Sall</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">y, and </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sleepless in Seattle</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> was also an insightful novelist, director and essayist. This hilarious essay collection depicts Nora Ephron’s reflections on ageing. As usual, Ephron is relatable and charming while dishing out insights on parenting and relationships and their inevitable changes. You can’t go wrong with Ephron’s wit and charm showing you how to deal.</span></p> <h2>5. Blackout by Sarah Hepola</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sarah Hepola’s memoir is addictive as it chronicles the ups and downs of the drinking habit she needs to curb. It’s one of those can’t-put-it-down, just-one-more-page, keep-you-up-all-night books. Her voice is relatable and funny, honest and open. Hepola manages to be critical of her alcoholism while at the same garnering all your sympathy. The book is also about how the author finds her voice as a writer and a woman. It’s a stunning debut from a fantastic writer.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/thought-provoking/13-books-we-bet-you-never-knew-were-banned"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are 13 books you never knew were banned</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Molly Pennington. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/book-club/15-gripping-memoirs-by-women-who-overcame-the-impossible">Reader’s Digest</a>. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</span></em></p>

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5 memoirs you won’t want to put down

<h2>1. Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jesmyn Ward writes about coming to terms with the loss of five young men she was close to – including her brother. Each young man comes from her close-knit community in small-town Mississippi – a location fraught with a racist history. Ward’s acclaimed and award-winning memoir captures a strong sense of place and the cultural problems that ensnare it. Her moving account honours the lives lost as it examines them. It’s a poignant call to understand the intricacies of history and its constant impact on the present.</span></p> <h2>2. Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">You may recognise author Isabel Gillies from </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Law &amp; Order SVU</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> where she played Det. Stabler’s wife. The actress has writerly talents that come out in her can’t-put-it-down memoir about her husband’s affair. He was a poet-professor who took up with a colleague. Meanwhile, Gillies was trying to be the perfect homemaker in their big house with their two small children. The book’s title comes from what the “other woman” told Gillies when she mentioned fears that her husband was straying: happens every day. Gillies fills her story with strength and humour in the midst of a shocking loss that leads her and the kids back to her parents’ New York City apartment after the truth comes out.</span></p> <h2>3. Under Red Skies by Karoline Kan</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Kan, a former </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York Times</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> reporter, tells the story of strife in China as the country grows into a global superpower, through the stories of three women in her own family, and her own story. Her grandmother struggles to support her family during the Great Chinese Famine; her mother gives birth to her in defiance of the one-child policy; and her cousin, who works in a shoe factory, is scraping by on wages equivalent to 88 cents an hour. Kan examines their legacy in her journey to make her way in a changing country and world.</span></p> <h2>4. The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meghan O’Rourke’s The Long Goodbye is a lovely meditation on grief itself and how to do it. She chronicles her mother’s shocking diagnosis and eventual passing. The book is a moving companion for anyone dealing with the loss of a beloved parent. O’Rourke’s background in poetry gives her memoir a lyrical quality that captures the layers of grief. This acclaimed book tells the author’s personal story as it examines the ways our culture is often inept at preparing us to go through the demanding and intense process of grieving.</span></p> <h2>5. Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ann Hood’s beautiful and unbearable book begins by relaying the tragic circumstances that led to the passing of her young and vivacious daughter. You’ll mourn the loss with her as you learn about the infection that arose without warning. Hood writes with generosity as she carries you through the details of an unthinkable shock. This book will clutch your heart and stay with you long after you’ve closed the cover.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/inspirational/I-Would-Like-to-Help-Find-You-Some-Good-Books"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next, be inspired by how a woman started a bookclub for prisoners, and how it changed her life</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Molly Pennington. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/book-club/15-gripping-memoirs-by-women-who-overcame-the-impossible">Reader’s Digest</a>. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</span></em></p>

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5 gripping memoirs by women who overcame the impossible

<h2>1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Readers fell in love with Cheryl Strayed’s lovely and lyrical prose in this best-seller about finding healing when you’re out on your own – like really on your own. Strayed’s best-seller recounts her months on a solo hike on the Pacific Northwest Trail from Montana to the Pacific Ocean. She comes to terms with a past filled with the wrong men and other choices she’d rather forget. Most of all, her epic hike allows her the time and space to grieve the loss of her beloved mother who passed way too young. A nature trail provides the path for what becomes an incredible journey.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/book-club/10-best-romance-novels-all-time"><span style="font-weight: 400;">You’ll also love these novels featuring strong fictional female characters</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <h2>2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">This is the book that launched Maya Angelou’s astonishing literary career. Her gorgeous memoir debuted in 1969 and captured the experience of growing up as a young Black girl in the South. Angelou’s poetic language expertly portrays details and events that are riveting and powerful. Though the book chronicles pain, it’s also about strength and resilience in the face of trauma. The book is a truly inspirational force about self-love and finding your intrinsic courage.</span></p> <h2>3. The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In this powerful memoir, subtitled “A Story of War and What Comes After,” Wamariya writes about fleeing the Rwandan genocide as a young child, travelling through multiple African countries with her sister as refugees, and eventually ending up in the United States. Her circumstances do a complete 180 as she ends up being taken in by an affluent family and attending Yale. In this </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">New York Times</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> bestseller, she tries to reconcile the vastly different experiences of her life.</span></p> <h2>4. The Liar’s Club by Mary Karr</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mary Karr’s funny and moving memoir about a tough childhood was hugely successful when it debuted in 1995. Readers connected with Karr’s witty and masterful storytelling about life in a volatile Texas family. She writes about drama and dysfunction with a poignant eye that captures details that will stay with you long after you’ve finished. It’s a story of a child’s resilience in the midst of alcoholism, mental illness, and other assorted chaos.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/uncategorized/25-bestselling-books-of-the-decade"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are 25 bestselling books everyone should read</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <h2>5. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne were a happily married literary power couple. Then suddenly, within a period of a few days, the famed writer lost her husband to a heart attack while her daughter was gravely ill with a sudden infection. Didion’s beautiful and acclaimed memoir records the year after these events during which her daughter continues a long and difficult recovery. Didion takes us through the heartbreak and shock of loss and love in this meditation on surviving grief. Sadly, Didion’s daughter passed after the book’s completion — the tragedy she chronicles in the companion book, </span><span style="font-weight: 400;">Blue Nights</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/true-stories-lifestyle/ten-inspirational-quotes-worlds-strongest-women"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Here are 10 inspirational quotes from strong women</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Molly Pennington. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.co.nz/book-club/15-gripping-memoirs-by-women-who-overcame-the-impossible">Reader’s Digest</a>. Find more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="https://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRA93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</span></em></p>

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First-time look at Prince Philip's school report

<p>The school that had a lasting impact on Prince Philip has released a report on the Duke's time there, describing him as someone who was liked and trusted by all.</p> <p>The Duke of Edinburgh attended Gordonstoun School in Moray, in the northeast of Scotland, from the age of 13, from 1934 until 1939.</p> <p>The school was established by Dr Kurt Hahn, a German Jew who fled Germany after he was arrested for speaking out against Hitler.</p> <p>Dr Hahn was considered an educational pioneer and established Gordonstoun to focus on military discipline, physical education and academia.</p> <p>But despite Prince Philip enjoying his time there, his son Prince Charles famously hated his experience and described it as "absolute hell".</p> <p>Dr Hahn was asked to write a report about Philip's time at the school shortly before his engagement to then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947.</p> <p>Buckingham Palace has now released the report for the first time, as they were originally set to include it as part of Prince Philip's 100th birthday celebrations in June.</p> <p>The headmaster's report covers the three years Philip was enrolled at Gordonstoun before he left to attend the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth.</p> <p>Dr Hahn noted Philip had "meticulous attention to detail" and was "never content with mediocre results".</p> <p>"His marked trait was his undefeatable spirit, he felt deeply both joy and sadness, and the way he looked and the way he moved indicated what he felt," Dr Hahn wrote.</p> <p>He mentioned Philip, who at the time was known as Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, never enjoyed the attention he received for being a royal.</p> <p>"He had grown impatient of what for short may be called Royalty nonsense," Dr Hahn said.</p> <p>"After matches and theatrical performances, people often asked him for an autograph. He found this ridiculous and on one occasion signed himself 'The Earl of Baldwin' to the bewilderment of the autograph-hunter."</p> <p>Gordonstoun was set up as the British version of Salem School in Germany, where Dr Hahn served as headmaster prior to fleeing.</p> <p>Philip was set to spend a year at Salem but was removed from the school by one of his sisters in 1934.</p> <p>Dr Hahn described that event as a move to protect the young prince.</p> <p>"This was the reason for the suddenness of Philip's transfer: whenever the Nazi salute was given he roared with laughter. After he had been admonished to caution, he continued to be doubled up in uncontrollable mirth," he said.</p> <p>"He no longer roared, but nevertheless attracted universal attention. 'We thought it better for him and also for us if he returned to England right away,' said his sister who brought him to Gordonstoun."</p> <p>The records show Prince Philip excelled in cricket and hockey and was made head boy, or school captain, in his final year.</p> <p>Dr Hahn went on to reveal that Philip found the school's strenuous program easy, which often lead to bouts of "intolerance and impatience".</p> <p>"When he was in the middle-school, he got into a fair number of scrapes through recklessness and wildness," Dr Hahn said.</p> <p>"He was often naughty, never nasty."</p> <p>Philip frequently showed "an ease and forthrightness in dealing with ... all kinds".</p>

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Duchess Kate’s exciting new venture

<p><span>The Duchess of Cambridge launched her Hold Still photography project in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery last year.</span><br /><br /><span>The endeavour aimed to encourage those in the UK to document their experiences during the pandemic.</span><br /><br /><span>“We’ve all been struck by some of the incredible images we’ve seen which have given us an insight into the experiences and stories of people across the country,” she said.</span><br /><br /><span>“Some desperately sad images showing the human tragedy of this pandemic and other uplifting pictures showing people coming together to support those more vulnerable.</span><br /><br /><span>“Hold Still aims to capture a portrait of the nation, the spirit of the nation, what everyone is going through at this time. Photographs reflecting resilience, bravery, kindness – all those things that people are experiencing.”</span><br /><br /><span>The heartfelt project is now turning into a photography book called Hold Still: A Portrait of Our Nation in 2020.</span><br /><br /><span>Inside, it will feature 100 portraits from the project, along with accompanying stories, and a foreword from the Duchess herself.</span><br /><br /><span>“When we look back at the COVID-19 pandemic in decades to come, we will think of the challenges we all faced – the loved ones we lost, the extended isolation from our families and friends and the strain placed on our key workers,” the royal wrote.</span><br /><br /><span>“But we will also remember the positives: the incredible acts of kindness, the helpers and heroes who emerged from all walks of life, and how together we adapted to a new normal.</span><br /><br /><span>“Through Hold Still, I wanted to use the power of photography to create a lasting record of what we were all experiencing – to capture individuals' stories and document significant moments for families and communities as we lived through the pandemic,” she continues.</span><br /><br /><span>“I would like to thank everyone who took the time to submit an image – your stories are the most crucial part of this project. I hope that the final 100 images showcase the experiences and emotions borne during this extraordinary moment in history, pay tribute to the awe-inspiring efforts of all who have worked to protect those around them, and provide a space for us to pause and reflect upon this unparalleled period.”</span><br /><br /><span>The new book will be available both online and in bookstores in the UK starting May 7.</span><br /><br /><span>The sales will be split between the mental health charity Mind and the National Portrait Gallery.</span></p>

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Six Dr Seuss books removed over racist imagery

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>Six Dr Seuss books will no longer be published as they contain racist and insensitive imagery.</p> <p>"These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," Dr Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author's legacy, said on Tuesday.</p> <p>"Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr Seuss Enterprises' catalogue represents and supports all communities and families."</p> <p>The six books that will no longer be published are:</p> <ul> <li><em>And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street</em></li> <li><em>If I Ran The Zoo</em></li> <li><em>McElligot's Pool</em></li> <li><em>On Beyond Zebra!</em></li> <li><em>Scrambled Eggs Super!</em></li> <li><em>The Cat's Quizzer</em></li> </ul> <p>The decision to cease sales and publication of these books was made last year after months of discussion.</p> <p>"Dr Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field as part of our review process," it said.</p> <p>"We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalogue of titles."</p> <p>Books by Dr Seuss are popular worldwide, as they've been translated into dozens of languages and are sold in more than 100 countries.</p> <p>Despite passing away in 1991, he earned an estimated 42.3 million before taxes in 2020.</p> <p>However, school districts across the US are moving away from Dr Suess as many believe that Suess' works are "steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures and harmful stereotypes".</p> <p>Dr Seuss Enterprises, however, said it was "committed to listening and learning and will continue to review our entire portfolio".</p> </div> </div> </div>

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Successful people do these 8 things each weekend

<p>Time management expert Laura Vanderkam reveals the subtle secrets to restorative and productive weekends in her book What Successful People Do Before Breakfast.</p> <p>Flex different skills<br />Your weekends need to feel different from your weekdays, which happens if you rotate in different activities and hobbies you don’t have time to do during the week, Laura Vanderkam shares in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. For examples, she notes that celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson plays soccer, television correspondent Bill McGowan chops firewood, and architect Rafael Vinoly plays piano. (Check out these other characteristics of wildly successful people.) Doing a different kind of labour allows your mind and body to recover from the typical stresses you encounter during the week.</p> <p>Plan it out<br />In today’s distracted world, no weekend plan likely means you’ll end up mindlessly watching television or browsing the internet. “Failing to think through what you wish to do on the weekend may make you succumb to the ‘I’m tired’ excuse that keeps you locked in the house,” she writes. You don’t need a micromanaged, minute-by-minute playbook, but sketch in three to five “anchor” activities. Planning also lets you savour the joy of anticipating something fun; psychology research shows we’re often happier anticipating an event, like a holiday, than we are during or after it.</p> <p>Do something fun on Sunday night<br />Dampen those Sunday night blues by giving yourself something to look forward to. “This extends the weekend and keeps you focused on the fun to come, rather than on Monday morning,” according to Vanderkam. You could make a tradition of a big dinner with your extended family, take an early-evening yoga class, or find a volunteer opportunity, such as serving meals to those less fortunate.</p> <p>Maximise your mornings<br />Weekend mornings tend to be wasted time, notes Vanderkam – cleaning up toys, throwing in laundry, flipping through programs you’ve recorded through the week. But if you’re willing to get up before your family, they’re great for personal pursuits, like training for a marathon. “It’s less disruptive for your family if you get up early to do your four-hour run than if you try to do it in the middle of the day,” she explains.</p> <p>Create traditions<br />Happy families often have special activities they do most weekends that don’t require special planning – Friday night pizza, a walk to religious services, Sunday morning pancakes. “These habits are what become memories,” she writes. “And comforting rituals boost happiness.”</p> <p>Schedule nap time<br />It’s not just for toddlers. Encouraging your whole family to have rest time in the mid- to late afternoon ensures you’ll actually take the time out of your busy schedules to let your body rest and recuperate.</p> <p>Compress chores<br />We know what you’re thinking: When else am I supposed to get errands done? Rather than let them take over your whole weekend, Vanderkam suggests that you designate a chore time, maybe on Saturday while you wait for the babysitter to come or for a designated period on Sunday mornings. “Giving yourself a small window makes you more motivated to get chores done quickly so you can move on to the fun things,” she writes.</p> <p>Cut down on tech<br />Even if you’re not religious, observing a “technology Sabbath” is good for your brain. “A stretch of time apart from the computer, phone and work stresses creates space for other things in life,” says Vanderkam. (It’s especially true if you show these signs you’re addicted to your phone.) Encouraging your whole family to put away their smartphones for a day, or even a few hours, forces you to have a different relationship with your spouse, friends, and kids. If you need to work on the weekends, consider a specific window to finish a project or sort through your inbox, rather than periodically checking and writing back to emails all day long.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Lauren Gelman</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/culture/successful-people-do-these-8-things-each-weekend"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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Empathy starts early: 5 Australian picture books that celebrate diversity

<p>Early exposure to diverse story characters, including in ethnicity, gender and ability, helps young people develop a strong sense of identity and belonging. It is also crucial in cultivating compassion towards others.</p> <p>Children from minority backgrounds rarely see themselves reflected in the books they’re exposed to. Research over the past two decades shows the world presented in children’s books is overwhelmingly white, male and middle class.</p> <p>A 2020 study in four Western Australian childcare centres showed only 18% of books available included non-white characters. Animal characters made up around half the books available and largely led “human” lives, adhering to the values of middle-class Caucasians.</p> <p>In our recent research of award-winning and shortlisted picture books, we looked at diversity in representations of Indigenous Australians, linguistically and culturally diverse characters, characters from regional or rural Australia, gender, sex and sexually diverse characters, and characters with a disability.</p> <p>From these, we have compiled a list of recommended picture books that depict each of these five aspects of diversity.</p> <p>Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander characters<br />Tom Tom, by Rosemary Sullivan and Dee Huxley (2010), depicts the daily life of a young Aboriginal boy Tom (Tommy) in a fictional Aboriginal community — Lemonade Springs. The community’s landscape, in many ways, resembles the Top End of Australia.</p> <p>Tom’s 22 cousins and other relatives call him Tom Tom. His day starts with a swim with cousins in the waters of Lemonade Springs, which is covered with budding and blossoming water lilies. The children swing on paperbark branches and splash into the water. Tom Tom walks to Granny Annie’s for lunch and spends the night at Granny May’s. At preschool, he enjoys painting.</p> <p>Through this picture book, non-Indigenous readers will have a glimpse of the intimate relationship between people and nature and how, in Lemonade Springs, a whole village comes together to raise a child.</p> <p>Characters from other cultures<br />That’s not a daffodil! by Elizabeth Honey (2012) is a story about a young boy’s (Tom) relationship with his neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, who comes from Turkey. Together, Tom and Mr Yilmaz plant, nurture and watch a seed grow into a beautiful daffodil.</p> <p>The author uses the last page of the book to explain that, in Turkish, Mr Yilmaz’s name does not have a dotted “i”, as in the English alphabet, and his name should be pronounced “Yuhlmuz”.</p> <p>While non-white characters, Mr Yilmaz and his grandchildren, only play supporting roles in the story, the book nevertheless captures the reality of our everyday encounters with neighbours from diverse ethnic backgrounds.</p> <p>Characters from rural Australia<br />All I Want for Christmas is Rain, by Cori Brooke and Megan Forward (2017), depicts scenery and characters from regional or rural Australia. The story centres on the little girl Jane’s experience of severe drought on the farm.</p> <p>The story can encourage students’ discussion of sustainability.</p> <p>In terms of diversity, it is equally important to meet children living in remote and regional areas as it is to see children’s lives in the city.</p> <p>Gender non-conforming characters<br />Granny Grommet and Me, by Dianne Wolfer and Karen Blair (2014), is full of beautiful illustrations of the Australian beach and surfing grannies.</p> <p>Told from the first-person point of view, it documents the narrator’s experiences of going snorkelling, surfing and rockpool swimming with granny and her grommet (amateur surfer) friends.</p> <p>In an age of parents’ increasing concern about gender stereotyping (blue for boy, pink for girl) of story characters in popular culture, Granny Grommet and Me’s representation of its main character “Me” is uniquely free from such bias.</p> <p>The main character wears a black wetsuit and a white sunhat and is not named in the book (a potential means of assigning gender).</p> <p>This gender-neutral representation of the character does not reduce the pleasure of reading this book. And it shows we can minimise attributes that symbolise stereotypes such as clothing, other accessories and naming.</p> <p>Characters living with a disability<br />Boy, by Phil Cummings and Shane Devries (2018), is a story about a boy who is Deaf.</p> <p>He uses sign language to communicate but people who live in the same village rarely understand him. That is, until he steps into the middle of a war between the king and the dragon that frightens the villagers.</p> <p>He resolves the conflict using his unique communication style and the villagers resolve to learn to communicate better with him by learning his language.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Ping Tian and Helen Caple. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/empathy-starts-early-5-australian-picture-books-that-celebrate-diversity-153629">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Abused, neglected, abandoned — did Roald Dahl hate children as much as the witches did?

<p>Described as “the world’s greatest storyteller”, Roald Dahl is frequently ranked as the best children’s author of all time by teachers, authors and librarians.</p> <p>However, the new film adaptation of Dahl’s controversial book, The Witches, warrants a fresh look at a recurrent contrast in Dahl’s work: child protection and care on one hand and a preoccupation with child-hatred, including child neglect and abuse, abandonment, and torture on the other.</p> <p>Dahl himself once admitted he simultaneously admired and envied children. While his stories spotlight children’s vulnerability to trauma, his child protagonists show how childhood can be an isolating but ultimately triumphant experience.</p> <p><strong>Anti-child or child-centred?</strong><br />While Dahl’s fans champion his “child-centredness” — arguing that anarchy and vulgarity are central to childhood — Dahl’s critics have ventured to suggest his work contains anti-child messages.</p> <p>In Dahl’s fiction, children are often described unfavourably: they are “stinkers”, “disgusting little blisters”, “vipers”, “imps”, “spoiled brats”, “greedy little thieves”, “greedy brutes”, “robber-bandits”, “ignorant little twits”, “nauseating little warts”, “witless weeds”, and “moth-eaten maggots”.</p> <p>Frightening female character on stage. Children behind.<br />The cruel and imposing figure of Miss Trunchbull in the stage musical Matilda. MANUEL HARLAN/Royal Shakespeare Company/AAP<br />With the exception of Bruce Bogtrotter, “bad” children are usually unpleasant gluttons who are punished for being spoiled or overweight. Augustus Gloop is ostracised because of his size. After he tumbles into Willy Wonka’s chocolate river and is sucked up the glass pipe, he’s physically transformed. “He used to be fat,” Grandpa Joe marvels. “Now he’s as thin as straw!”</p> <p>From Miss Trunchbull to the Twits, Aunts Spiker and Sponge, and even Willy Wonka, many of Dahl’s adult characters are merciless figures who enjoy inflicting physical and emotional pain on children.</p> <p>In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Wonka not only orchestrates the various “accidents” that occur at the factory, but he stands by indifferently as each child suffers.</p> <p>In Wonka’s determination to make the “rotten ones” pay for their moral failings, he not only humiliates the children (and their parents), but permanently marks the “bad” children through physical disfigurement. When gum-chewing champion Violet Beauregarde turns purple, Wonka is indifferent. “Ah well,” he says. “There’s nothing we can do about that”.</p> <p><strong>Red-hot sizzling hatred</strong><br />The Witches is centred around the theme of child-hatred.</p> <p>“Real witches,” we are told, “hate children with a red-hot sizzing hatred that is more sizzling and red-hot than any hatred you could possibly imagine”. At their hands (or claws), young children are not only mutilated but exterminated.</p> <p>Indeed, the ultimate goal of The Grand High Witch is filicide: she plans to rid the world of children — “disgusting little carbuncles” — by tricking them into eating chocolate laced with her malevolent Formula 86: Delayed Action Mouse-Maker.</p> <p>In The Witches, as in many of Dahl’s fictions for children (he also wrote adult erotica), authoritarian figures are revealed as bigoted and hypocritical, or violent and sadistic. Primary caregivers are neglectful or absent.</p> <p>So the real threats to the child protagonists of The Witches, Matilda and James and The Giant Peach are not monsters under the bed, but adults whose hatred of children is disguised behind a mask of benevolence.</p> <p>In The Witches, the young narrator initially finds comfort in the fact he has encountered such “splendid ladies” and “wonderfully kind people”, but soon the facade crumbles.</p> <p>“Down with children!” he overhears the witches chant. “Do them in! Boil their bones and fry their skin! Bish them, sqvish them, bash them, mash them!”</p> <p><strong>Necessary evil</strong><br />Although the violence present in Dahl’s work can be easily perceived as morbid, antagonism towards children is a necessary part of Dahl’s project.</p> <p>The initial disempowerment of the child lays the groundwork for the “underdog” narrative. It allows downtrodden children to emerge victorious by outwitting their tormentors through their resourcefulness and a little magic.</p> <p>Initially, violence is used to reinforce the initial “victimhood” of the child, then it is repurposed in the latter stages of each tale to punish and overcome the perpetrator of the mistreatment.</p> <p>James’s wicked aunts get their comeuppance when they’re squashed by the giant peach. In The BFG, kidnapped orphan Sophie emerges as the unlikely hero, saving herself and exerting a positive influence on her captor.</p> <p>Dahl’s fiction is perhaps considered dangerous for a different reason: it takes children seriously.</p> <p>The author dispenses humour alongside his descriptions of violence to create a less threatening atmosphere for young readers. Children revel in the confronting depictions even while being shocked or repulsed. Dahl — perhaps drawing on childhood trauma of his own — creates a cathartic outlet for children to release tension through laughter, especially at situations that may tap into the reader’s experiences of helplessness.</p> <p>Such fiction provides children a means of empowerment. Seeing themselves reflected in literature can be an important part of a child’s processing of adversity.</p> <p>Dahl’s work raises important questions about the safety of children, encouraging them to find their power in the most disempowering situations.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kate Cantrell, India Bryce and Jessica Gildersleeve. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/abused-neglected-abandoned-did-roald-dahl-hate-children-as-much-as-the-witches-did-152813">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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Fergie taps into personal lineage for her inspired first novel

<p><span>Sarah ‘Fergie’ Ferguson has a new fictional novel coming to the shelf, which is inspired by her family history.</span><br /><br /><span>The Duchess of York has taken on the challenge of portraying her great-great-aunt Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas and is set to be released in August.</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839480/sarah-ferguson-novel-a-heart-for-the-compass.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/b07cae45e9f24b41b7caf25fc7536780" /><br /><br /><span>The former wife of Prince Andrew has released children's books in the past, but became inspired for her new novel when she was “researching” her ancestry.</span><br /><br /><span>“Digging into the history of the Montagu-Douglas Scotts, I first came across Lady Margaret, who intrigued me because she shared one of my given names,” she said.</span><br /><br /><span>“But although her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, were close friends with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, I was unable to discover much about my namesake’s early life, and so was born the idea which became Her Heart for a Compass.</span><br /><br /><span>“With real historical events and facts to hand, my imagination took over.”<br /><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839478/sarah-ferguson-novel-a-heart-for-the-compass-2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/e8539deadd15429689a5a634e773b11f" /></span><br /><br /><span>The 61-year-old went on to say: “I invented a history for her that incorporated real people and events, including some of my other ancestors.</span><br /><br /><span>“I created a friendship between my heroine and Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s sixth child, and I drew on many parallels from my life for Lady Margaret’s journey.</span><br /><br /><span>“I have long held a passion for historical research and telling the stories of strong women in history through film and television.</span><br /><br /><span>“I am proud to bring my personal brand of historical fiction to the publishing world.”</span><br /><br /><span>Despite Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson divorcing in 1996, the pair still remain great friends and live together at the Royal Lodge in London.</span></p>

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The Wind in the Willows — a tale of wanderlust, male bonding, and timeless delight

<p>Like several classics penned during the golden age of children’s literature, The Wind in the Willows was written with a particular child in mind.</p> <p>Alastair Grahame was four years old when his father Kenneth — then a secretary at the Bank of England — began inventing bedtime stories about the reckless ruffian, Mr Toad, and his long-suffering friends: Badger, Rat, and Mole.</p> <p>Alastair, born premature and partially blind, was nicknamed “Mouse”. Small, squinty, and beset by health problems, he was bullied at school. His rapture in the fantastic was later confirmed by his nurse, who recalled hearing Kenneth “up in the night-nursery, telling Master Mouse some ditty or other about a toad”.</p> <p>The Wind in the Willows evolved from Alastair’s bedtime tales into a series of letters Grahame later sent his son while on holiday in Littlehampton. In the story, a quartet of anthropomorphised male animals wander freely in a pastoral land of leisure and pleasure — closely resembling the waterside haven of Cookham Dean where Grahame himself grew up.</p> <p>In peaceful retreat from “The Wide World”, Rat, Mole, Badger, and Toad spend their days chatting, philosophising, pottering, and ruminating on the latest fashions and fads. But when the daredevil, Toad, takes up motoring, he becomes entranced by wild fantasies of the road. His concerned friends must intervene to restrain his whims, teaching him “to be a sensible toad”.</p> <p>Unlike Toad’s recuperative ending, however, Alastair’s story did not end happily. In the spring of 1920, while a student at Oxford, he downed a glass of port before taking a late night stroll. The next morning, railway workers found his decapitated body on tracks near the university. An inquest determined his death a likely suicide but out of respect for his father, it was recorded as an accident.</p> <p>Kenneth Grahame, by all accounts, never recovered from the loss of his only child. He became increasingly reclusive, eventually abandoning writing altogether.</p> <p>In his will, he gifted the original manuscript of Willows to the Bodleian Library, along with the copyrights and all his royalties. Upon his death in 1932, he was buried in Oxford next to his first reader, Mouse.</p> <p>A ‘gay manifesto’?<br />Biographical readings are a staple in children’s literature, and the criticism surrounding The Wind in the Willows is no exception. First published in 1908 — the same year as Anne of Green Gables and Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz — the novel was initially titled The Mole and the Water-Rat. After back and forth correspondence with Grahame, his publisher Sir Algernon Methuen wrote to say he had settled on The Wind in the Willows because of its “charming and wet sound”.</p> <p>Today, one of the mysteries surrounding the novel is the meaning of the title. The word “willows” does not appear anywhere in the book; the single form “willow” appears just twice.</p> <p>When Willows was first released in Britain it was marketed as an allegory — “a fantastic and whimsical satire upon life”, featuring a cast of woodland and riverside creatures who were closer to an Edwardian gentlemen’s club than a crowd of animals. Indeed, the adventures structuring the novel are the meanderings of old English chaps nostalgic for another time.</p> <p>The four friends, though different in disposition, are bound by their “divine discontent and longing”.</p> <p>Restless enough to be easily bewitched, they are rich enough to fill their days with long picnics and strolls. Most chapters are sequenced in chronological order, but the action revolves around different types of wandering – pottering around the garden, messing about in boats, rambling along country lanes.</p> <p>With the exception of a brief encounter with a jailer’s daughter, an overweight barge woman, and a careless mother hedgehog, there are no women in Willows. And excluding a pair of young hedgehogs and a group of field mice, all male, there are no children either.</p> <p>Given the novel’s strong homosocial subtext and absence of female characters, the story is often read as an escapist fantasy from Grahame’s unhappy marriage to Elspeth Thomson. Peter Hunt, an eminent scholar of Willows, describes the couple’s relationship as “sexually arid” and suggests Grahame’s sudden resignation from the bank in 1908 was due to bullying on the basis of his sexuality.</p> <p>Indeed, Hunt ventures to call the book “a gay manifesto”, reading it as a gay allegory heavy with suppressed desire and latent homoeroticism. In one scene, for example, Mole and Rat “shake off their garments” and “tumble in-between the sheets in great joy and contentment”.</p> <p>Earlier, while sharing a bed in the open air, Mole “reaches out from under his blanket, feels for the Rat’s paw in the darkness, and gives it a squeeze.” “I’ll do whatever you like, Ratty,” he whispers.</p> <p>For this reason, and others, some critics suggest that Willows is not a children’s book at all, but a novel for adults that can be enjoyed by children.</p> <p>Conservatism<br />Whether we read Willows as a simple animal story or a social satire, the narrative reinforces the status quo. Badger, for instance, resembles a gruff headmaster whose paternal concern for his friends extends to an earnest attempt to reform the inebriate Toad.</p> <p>Toad is a recognisable type of schoolboy, charming and impulsive but wildly arrogant and lacking self-control. In the end, he is punished for his foolish behaviour and forced to forgo his flamboyant egotism in humble resignation at Toad Hall. Similarly, Mole and Ratty are afflicted by wanderlust, but inevitably retreat to their cosy, subterranean homes. All of Grahame’s animals return to their “proper” place.</p> <p>This return to civility and quiet domesticity exemplifies a criticism often levelled at children’s literature: that such stories are more about the fears and desires of adults than those of children. (Alice in Wonderland, for instance, emphasises the importance of curiosity and imagination, but is also an attempt to socialise children into responsible citizenship.)</p> <p>Willows is a story about homecoming and friendship, but also a psychodrama about uncontrolled behaviour and addiction in Edwardian England.</p> <p>Creatures of habit<br />Perhaps the most famous scene in Willows — now also a popular ride at Disneyland — is Mr Toad’s Wild Ride. In the novel, the incautious Toad, who is oddly large enough to drive a human-sized car, is frequently in trouble with the law and even imprisoned due to his addiction to joyriding.</p> <p>At times delusional, the self-proclaimed “terror of the highway” writes off several vehicles before spiralling into a cycle of car theft, dangerous driving, and disorderly behaviour.</p> <p>Eventually, Toad’s motorcar mania becomes so unmanageable that his exasperated friends are forced to stage “a mission of mercy” – a “work of rescue” that contemporary readers might recognise as an intervention. This subtext of addiction underpins the arc of recovery, and is crucial for understanding the novel’s key themes: the limits of friendship, the loss of pastoral security, and the temptations of city life.</p> <p>Interestingly, in Badger’s attempt to help Toad break the cycle of withdrawal and recovery, and in Toad’s temporary abatement and relapse, the text points to another form of addiction: to alcohol.</p> <p>When Toad is banished to his country retreat — a typical “cure” for upper-class alcoholism at the time — Badger stresses he will remain in enforced confinement “until the poison has worked itself out of his system” and his “violent paroxysms” have passed.</p> <p>Again, the biographical foundation of the work is clear. Grahame’s father, Cunningham, was an alcoholic whose heavy drinking resulted, like Toad’s intoxication, in social exile, financial strain, and the loss of the family home.</p> <p>In The Wind in the Willows, Grahame employs animals to render all the ups and downs of human experience. In doing so, he captures the conflict and consonance between freedom and captivity, tradition and modernity.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Kate Cantrell. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/guide-to-the-classics-the-wind-in-the-willows-a-tale-of-wanderlust-male-bonding-and-timeless-delight-151091">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

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"Undisputed giant", John Le Carré dies at age 89

<p>John le Carré, who was responsible for some of the most thrilling literary works, has died aged 89.</p> <p>Le Carré is the mastermind behind novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Night Manager, which garnered critical acclaim and made him a bestseller around the world.</p> <p>His family confirmed his passing on Sunday, revealing pneumonia as the cause.</p> <p>He died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on Saturday.</p> <p>“We all deeply grieve his passing,” they wrote in a statement.</p> <p>His longtime agent Jonny Geller described him as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed … I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again.”</p> <p>His peers lined up to pay tribute. Stephen King wrote: “This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.” Robert Harris said the news had left him “very distressed … one of the great postwar British novelists, and an unforgettable, unique character.” Adrian McKinty described Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as “quite simply the greatest spy novel ever written”, while historian Simon Sebag Montefiore called him “the titan of English literature up there with the greats … in person, captivating and so kind and generous to me and many others.”</p> <p>Born as David Cornwell in 1931, Le Carré started working for the secret services while studying German in Switzerland at the end of the 1940s.</p> <p>He went on to teach at Eton and later joined the British Foreign Service as an intelligence officer.</p> <p>Inspired by his colleague at MI5, the novelist John Bigham, he began to publish thrillers under the pseudonym of John le Carré.</p>

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Roald Dahl’s family makes official apology for anti-Semitic comments

<p><span>The family of Roald Dahl has apologised for the late author’s “prejudiced” anti-Semitic comments.</span><br /><br /><span>Dahl is considered “one of the world’s most imaginative, successful and loved storytellers” – and wrote many children’s classics including “Matilda”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach”.</span><br /><br /><span>While he died in 1990 at the age of 74, his family has finally acknowledged anti-Semitic comments made more than two decades ago.</span><br /><br /><span>In a post on Dahl’s website, the family wrote they wanted to “deeply apologise for the lasting and understandable hurt caused by some of Roald Dahl’s statements.”</span><br /><br /><span>“Those prejudiced remarks are incomprehensible to us and stand in marked contrast to the man we knew and to the values at the heart of Roald Dahl’s stories, which have positively impacted young people for generations.</span><br /><br /><span>“We hope that, just as he did at his best, at his absolute worst, Roald Dahl can help remind us of the lasting impact of words.”</span></p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839086/roald-dahl-1.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/ca5dce5612ee48899dfef9f2839db486" /><br /><br /><span>In an interview with the </span><em>New Statesman</em><span> magazine in 1983, the author said: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews.”</span><br /><br /><span>“Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason,” Dahl added.</span><br /><br /><span>He then made another comment in 1990, where he told </span><em>The Independent</em><span>: “I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism.”</span></p>

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