China reacts to ‘Bunny suicide’ book

The bestselling Book of Bunny Suicides: Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore has come under fire in China after a number of children made serious suicide attempts and one twelve year old jumped from a sixth floor apartment.

Newspapers there are blaming the exam-oriented educational system for excessive pressure on students while the China Mental Health Association has reported that suicide in China is triple the world average for 15 - 34 year olds.

As a reaction to the rising fears bookshops have begun to remove the book from their shelves. (Irish Times)

*September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day. While I don’t see the need, or the effect, of candle vigils there is a need for people to be more open and willing to talk about suicide. It effects thousands of people each year - in 2005 431 Irish people took their own lives. Banning books that might initiate discussion isn’t helping. Books, like Keith Gray’s Ostrich Boys approach suicide with humour and reality and could, at least in theory, help begin discussion.

Written by david. in: Censorship, books, mental health | Tags: , ,

Electric Weekend

Back from Electric Picnic (it was incredible - check out some of the pics here) A couple of things to catch up with now that I’m back though:

Including Philip Pullman’s address to the world (or to anyone who will listen in the world) about Age Branding. As Michael has said - read every word. Go on -

Spotted on Boing Boing that Disney are releasing a new edition of Alice in Wonderland, featuring Mary Blair’s original movie sketches. Looking forward to seeing how it looks! Here’s a sneak peak at Blair’s illustrations, enjoy!


Jacqueline Wilson, twat?

It’s not just Tintin and Batman who are getting a rough deal with censorship this week - Jacqueline Wilson’s book My Sister Jodie has been at the stinging end of a conservative language kerfuffle too. Random House have agreed to change the word ‘twat’ to ‘twit’ in the best-selling book after receiving three complaints.

More than 150,000 copies have already been sold and according to Random House only three people have complained. The UK retailer Asda received one of those complaints and have decided to remove it from their shelves until the reprint is released.

Michael Rosen comments about it on the Guardian blog

No one is going to be corrupted by it (as if!), no one is going to suffer because of it, no one is going to be emotionally damaged by it. The word in common British-English usage has come to mean something not much different from “twit” or “stupid person” and if you want to represent the speech of young people today, then that is one stroke of the writer’s paintbrush that is available to you.

There is a double edged sword with Wilson. She is former Children’s Laureate as well as a respected and renowned writer of bestsellers - something which Random House won’t want to jeopardize. If the book been written by a younger or unknown author would the call to reprint have been made?

Read more on the Guardian or The Telegraph

Written by david. in: Censorship, childrens books | Tags: ,

Batman backlash

The Dark Knight has been getting a bit of a kicking from some conservative, and not-so-conservative viewers, even Anthony Horowitz gets in on the question… what is acceptable for children?

It is a strange, modern phenomenon that we worry about our children even as we collude in their undoing. Computer games are far bloodier and insidious than anything that can be seen in the cinema, and it’s worth noting that in their case an 18 certification is just about meaningless. Grand Theft Auto anyone? The Police Federation described it as “sick, deluded and beneath contempt”. All in all, I’m surprised they didn’t put such a glowing review on the box.

Read more of Horowitz’s article on the guardian site.

Written by david. in: Censorship, movies | Tags: ,

more on age branding | Philip Pullman and others

…an age-guidance figure is not information. It’s an opinion, but one that seems to have a special authority. There’s nothing wrong with a bookseller, for example, shelving one of my books on the 9-11 shelves; or a reviewer saying that the same book is suitable for 11 and upwards; or a teacher giving it to a child of eight, because she knows him and what he’s capable of reading. People make decisions and express views of that sort all the time. And their views differ, that’s the point. They are based on personal knowledge and opinion.

But when the book itself says 9+, or 11+, that figure has quite a different status. It looks as if the author is assenting to it; it looks as if I’m saying: “I wrote this for 11-year-olds. Everyone else can keep out.”

And I did not.

Philip Pullman on age branding in last Saturday’s Guardian and in Thursday’s Telegraph. The Forbidden Planet blog has a response to the article - and how age branding affects comics. Some interesting comments on the Book Fox blog after publishing Darren Shan’s statement, worth a read indeed!

> everyone’s talking about… age branding
> everyone really is talking about age branding…


everyone’s talking about… age branding

How different is age branding on the back cover of a book to one being shelved under teen fiction or 8+ in a bookshop?

Darren Shan and a heap of others, including four laureates - all listed here, have come out against publishing age brands on children’s books.

The fight in the UK is being headed up by Philip Pullman, who argues in an article on that the branding:

  • will discourage children from reading outside their age band;
  • it is over-prescriptive;
  • it is unnecessary in that there are plenty of clues on books as to their target reader.

Darren says:

I really think the publishers have made a big mistake with this. We’re in the same game, and our aims are the same — to deliver quality books to as many readers as we possibly can. But by taking this crazy stance, and not including authors in the decision making process, the publishers have drawn a line in the sand between them and us, forcing writers to take a stand against them.

The decision to go ahead was made - in some cases - without any consultation with writers, which was always going to get people’s backs up. But the argument for age branding seems primarily to stem from a hope for increased sales without huge cost, which is understandable.

I’m not for the idea to be honest - but I think I have must missed the reasons for the vehement backlash from writers.

It is a chance for writers, publishers, booksellers, and readers to look at how books are presented and for a real discussion on what direction the presentation and publicizing should take…

More on age branding on and on

Powered by WordPress | Content is copyright David Maybury, unless otherwise stated.