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Children's LiteratureWhat 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