140 Influences in 140 (& a few more) letters…….. Number16 – Animal Farm

photo-16To celebrate World Book Day on March 5th 2015, heres an extended 140 influences introduction that ends with a 140 character book review of one of my favourite books.

According to the WBD website ‘World Book Day is a celebration! It’s a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) it’s a celebration of reading”. Schools especially take the opportunity to promote children’s literature usually by getting young people to dress as their favourite characters, much to the dismay of some parents. If this had happened many years ago, I would have wanted to have been Snowball the Pig.

In 2009 I attended the 5th Fickling lecture on the developments in Childrens Literature at Newcastle University. That year, Nick Hornby was to talk on the subject of how all literature is young adult literature. He started by talking about a recent article which encouraged authors (like himself) to name the 10 books which children should read in school. He read out a list that one esteemed literature person had come up with… The Odyssey, Don Quixote, Hamlet, Paradise Lost, Lyrical Ballads, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Portrait of a Lady and The wasteland. Nick pointed out that he had only read a few of these (I had read 2 and a quarter), so why were we expecting our children to read such heavyweight classics. He went on to say that he refused to write a list and instead he would rather the children came out of the school  cherishing at least one book which they enjoyed and changed their thinking. No matter what the subject matter was.

photo-17I was not a prolific school reader. I liked books but struggled to keep an interest in shakespearian tragedies, home county upper class snobbery or authentic victorian dramas. Instead I found myself absorbed in factual books and then Science fiction and fantasy. The school curriculum did not usually cater for this (except for the year we had to read Arthur C Clarkes ‘A Fall of Moondust’) but it did make me read one book which would change my beliefs. I loved history and this clever seemingly simplistic story mirrored a period of time I had just discovered. It made me politically aware at 13 years old but it wasn’t till later I discovered how politically powerful this story was and how it applies to politics in any decade. The modern fable of pigs, sheep, dogs , birds and horses changed how I thought about political systems and authority in general. The book was George Orwells Animal Farm.

‘A dystopian allegory of Russian Revolution, with the slide from uprising to how power corrupts through use of doctrine, propaganda & violence’

photo-18For this post I created a pop-up, which I have called ‘The evolution of Napoleon’ as a homage to the book. Its made up of three silhouettes of a pig, a pig in a bed and then disturbingly a pig in clothes with a beer and shotgun. This is to show the changes throughout the book of the main pig characters. The background is a white card with bold red stencil print of the 7 commandments. Three support structures have been cut and pushed out enabling the pigs to stand up. The whole card was then placed inside a black card to add a bit more stability.

 

 

 

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