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You Can't Read This: Forbidden Books, Lost Writing, Mistranslations, and Codes

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Overview

Wherever people can read, there are stories about the magic, mystery, and power of what they read. Val Ross presents a history of reading that is, in fact, the story of the monumental, on-going struggle to read. From Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon the Great, the world’s oldest signed author to Empress Shotoku of Japan who in 764 ordered the printing of one million Buddhist prayers; from the story of Hulagu, Ghengis Khan’s nasty brother who destroyed the library of Baghdad to Bowdler and the censorship of ...
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You Can't Read This: Forbidden Books, Lost Writing, Mistranslations, and Codes

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Overview

Wherever people can read, there are stories about the magic, mystery, and power of what they read. Val Ross presents a history of reading that is, in fact, the story of the monumental, on-going struggle to read. From Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon the Great, the world’s oldest signed author to Empress Shotoku of Japan who in 764 ordered the printing of one million Buddhist prayers; from the story of Hulagu, Ghengis Khan’s nasty brother who destroyed the library of Baghdad to Bowdler and the censorship of Shakespeare, there have been barriers to reading ranging from the physical to the economical, social, and political.

Written for children ages ten and up, You Can’t Read This explores the development of alphabets, the decoding of ancient languages, and censorship in Ancient Rome and modern America. It's about secret writing, trashed libraries, writers on the run, writers in hiding, books that are thought to have magical powers and mistranslations that started wars. It's about people: from the American slave Frederick Douglass to girls in Afghanistan in the year 2001 who defied laws that prevented them from learning to read.

What do all these stories have in common?

They’re all about how texts contain power – and how people everywhere throughout history have devoted their wills and their brains to reading and unleashing the power of the word.

With lavish illustrations and an index, this is history at its finest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for The Road to There:

“Filled with details and insights and written with a storyteller’s touch, this book will simultaneously inform and fascinate readers.”
School Library Journal [starred review]

“Ross covers plenty of historical ground in this wide-ranging discussion of maps and mapmakers…. An eclectic presentation… fascinating to young people…”
Booklist

“In 13 chapters (or stories), Ross charts a route, notable for its verve, vitality and scholarship …. [N]ew worlds will be sensed if not seen by her readers as they travel with her from There to Here.”
The Globe and Mail

“…engaging… The most extraordinary feature is that the author…uses a short-story style, combining facts with a distinct narrative voice.”
VOYA

Children's Literature
What fictional character was hated and despised by Hitler, Mussolini, George Orwell, the German SS, and the United States Senate? The answer to this potentially head-scratching question—Superman. Yet the saga of Superman is but one element of Val Ross' bright, creative, and unique look at the competing struggles of people seeking knowledge in printed forms and those in power who strive to suppress this seemingly basic human drive to read & understand. You Can't Read This takes the reader into the worlds of individuals who struggled to both express themselves and stand in opposition to the pernicious veil of censorship. Readers will encounter young girls who studied in secret and in opposition to Afghanistan's oppressive Taliban regime. They will meet the Roman poet Lucan who sacrificed his life by speaking out and writing about Emperor Nero's evil nature. Readers will relive the story of the Mongols burning of over a million rare books in their sack of Baghdad in 1258, an act that still chills the soul of any avid reader. In the end Val Ross offers readers a fascinating look into the world of both censorship and the brave hearted people who stood up against it. This is a solid effort by Ross and a book that will appeal to a wide audience. You Can't Read This is also a reminder of the power of language and the ongoing struggle to unleash that investigative and expressive force. 2006, Tundra Books, Ages 12 up.
—Greg M. Romaneck
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887767326
  • Publisher: Tundra
  • Publication date: 4/28/2006
  • Pages: 152
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Val Ross was a renowned journalist and won a National Newspaper Award. She was highly respected throughout the publishing industry for her coverage of books and the people who create them. She was an arts reporter at The Globe and Mail and her first book, The Road to There: Mapmakers and Their Stories was nominated for many awards and won the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s non-fiction. Val Ross passed away in 2008.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2013

    I checked this out

    I checked this out
    It was horrible

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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