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not only but also
Book review: "You're all animals" 
1st-May-2013 01:40 pm
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I was going to send this right to randomhouse, because I thought the feedback might be welcome, but they have no way of contacting them without signing up or giving them your facebook creditials or something, so...

So, Hamish scored this book :
http://www.randomhouse.com.au/books/nicholas-allan/youre-all-animals-9780099411253.aspx
aaaaand I have now taken it away.

I am sure that the author had the best of intentions when he wrote it. Something like show how you can be friends with someone even if they are different - if you can't see their differences you can grow to be friends on the basis that they have lots in common with you. Unfortunately that is not how any adult I've shown it to has read it. It reads instead like "My First Passive Xenophobia, with bonus 'I know one different person so I am not a racist' ending"

The main character moves to a new school, and everyone is different. He spurns them because they smell or they have weird arms in PE or eat weird food or just look strange. When he complains to his dad, his dad say to find someone like him on the internet, wherein he meets Frank, another kid. Each night he chats to Frank a bit more. Frank and him have lots in common, and so after a few days of talking, he meets Frank in real life. Frank turns out to be a mouse! But they are still friends, so its all ok.

"I'm not prejeudiced, I'm friends with Frank!"

At no point does any adult figure in the book say "That's really uncool, stop freaking out about people being different." Seriously. Stop it. In fact the adult's response is to turn to the internet to find a friend that isn't weird. No implicit approval of your xenophobia there, no sir!

If it had been a different kid each night on the internet, and he'd got over the whole deal of caring about difference it'd be fine. But at the end, you're still left with "oh I'm friends with frank, but not those *others*" And then you turn to the front cover again, and the whole "You're all animals" starts to take on a whole different connotation.
Comments 
1st-May-2013 03:54 am (UTC)
Totally agree. Having read the book myself, that was absolutely the take-home message I got from it.
1st-May-2013 03:58 am (UTC)
I thought "I wonder if you could comment on Amazon?" and went hunting. They don't have it. But they did suggest I try downloading Sid Meier's Civilisation IV. I think you may be on to something there, with your passive xenophobia interpretation.
1st-May-2013 04:11 am (UTC) - Random House contacts
Email: customerservice@randomhouse.com.au

Or put this directly on their FB page: http://www.facebook.com/randomhouseau

1st-May-2013 04:13 am (UTC) - Re: Random House contacts
yeah, jess pointed it out... I'd missed that whole contacts page because I'd already found _two_ contacts pages....
3rd-May-2013 07:35 am (UTC)
Also in the list of books not to give children:

Master Snickup's Cloak by Alexander Theroux (Author) & Brian Froud (Illustrator) - a fun romance set in the Black Plague.

Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake - The Songs of Innocence are OK, I guess, but those Songs of Experience will get you every time.
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