Outside the Cave, January 8, 2017

Outside the Cave, January 8, 2017

Hey, those holidays were great, eh? But if you’re like most people, you were so busy that you missed out on some reading. We’re here to help with our weekly Outside the Cave — a review of things we’ve been reading on the internet this week.

First up, here’s something I didn’t know existed, and hadn’t even considered: kids’ books translated into Latin. Now, the first question that crosses most people’s minds is … “Why?” And the second question is, “No, really,  why?” The market for native Latin-reading kids has been a tad small for the last couple of millennia, and it’s not like grade one kids are getting Latin lessons at school. But the idea is to keep Latin alive as a language. Actually, if I were a kid I’d probably find these books a lot of fun, so I’ll pull back on my skepticism a little bit.

Keeping reading itself alive is also a noble goal, and Joyce Grant’s “Get Kids Reading” site is dedicated to promoting literacy among young people. Recently she posted this piece about why instruction books are great for literacy.

Unfortunately, there are some people who hate literacy, and even more unfortunate is that they’re in government in Newfoundland and Labrador and are able to slap an ill-conceived tax on books just for the hell of it. (This war on books was announced last year but came into effect January 1.) And it’s triple unfortunate because the geniuses who came up with this scheme clearly have no idea that the affected books won’t bring in all that much tax revenue anyway, so, great job guys! You’ve just done something that is of little benefit to you and only hurts other people. On the bright side, the tax will generate SOME revenue, and my guess is that the cash they bring in will be almost enough for the mop and bucket they’ll need to clean up the blood from all the knuckles that were dragging across the floor of the House of Assembly when they passed this bill.

And speaking of people who shouldn’t be in a position to draft legislation, some people who shouldn’t be in a position to draft legislation south of the border are drafting legislation. Let’s see how that is going. Oh look, in Virginia, they’re trying to make it easier to ban books that might tell young people sex exists. The term “sexually explicit” is so open to interpretation that pretty much any book that is about the real world we live in will be at risk of a school ban. The only bright side I can think of is that if I send them the books I’ve published with DCB over the years I might be able to get them to ban at least half, and I can spin that into some great “this book was banned” publicity! Wish me luck.

But why dwell on folks who were transported into our world from the seventeenth century? Let’s look at people who actually like and understand young readers.

Buzzfeed interviewed Patrick Ness, who has had a wee bit of a success. He shares his thoughts on writing for young people, including this: “In a way, there’s nothing that’s taboo. It’s about how you tell it. Teenagers certainly think about the most difficult things – all you have to do is read what teenagers write. Their own fiction is far darker than anything a YA author would be allowed to publish.” Kids can handle subjects tougher than most adults give them credit for — this is something I’ve maintained as long as I’ve been publishing — and Ness hits the nail on the head with this comment.

And finally, you know all that complaining we’ve been doing about the weather lately? Let’s take a look at this list from 49th Shelf. They’ve reminded us that, for kids, winter isn’t quite the unending misery-fest that we grownups sometimes think it is.

That’s it for this week’s look around the web. Some Bookcave-originated content is on its way in the coming days, so keep checking in, and watch our Twitter and Facebook pages, where we always announce new content.

Barry Jowett
Head Caveperson

Leave a Reply