'Yertle the Turtle' Enters Canada's Culture War; A Walden Video Game

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Today in books and publishing: Tom Hanks reads Stephen Colbert's children's book for adults, gamers are going to be getting a taste of Henry David Thoreau, and Yertle the Turtle is too politically charged for British Columbia.

Originally published in 1958, Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss is a classic of the turtle-stacking genre. It is also, apparently, too politically charged to be displayed in an elementary school in Prince Rupert,  British Columbia, at least not while the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and the province are fighting a labor battle. Administrators defended the decision to shield students from the problematic, apparently pro-labor Seussism -- “I know up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here on the bottom, we too should have rights” -- noting that  it's a "good use of [our] time if it serves the purpose of shielding the children from political messaging." Unlike all the other formal bannings of lines from Dr. Seuss, which were just silly. [The Globe and Mail]

Tom Hanks is going to read the audiobook version of I Am a Pole (and So Can You), Stephen Colbert children's book about a flag pole that adults will love and children will not understand, even after a kindly cool uncle spends several hours explaining it to them. You can click through for an audio sample, in which Tom Hanks sounds the way you'd expect him to sound while reading a Stephen Colbert book about a flag pole. Which is to say, confident and amiable, though his northern California accent is more pronounced than usual. [The Hollywood Reporter]

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The National Endowment for the Arts has granted the University of Southern California $40,000 to develop a video game based Henry David Thoreau's writings from Walden Pond. Thoreau Before setting your phasers to cluck -- Thoreau! Video games! Your Money! -- consider that Thoreau went to Walden because he wanted to "learn to live deliberately," a lifestyle millions of college freshman embrace every year with the help of Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and dorm-wide Mario Kart tournaments. The game promises to place the player in "an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods" which will make it ideal for anyone who liked Grand Theft Auto IV, but thought it needed less killing and more field tilling. [GalleyCat]

When Mein Kampf is published for the first time in Germany in 2015, it will be in a "commercially unattractive" volume designed to prevent Hitler's manifesto from being used by propagandists. It's unclear if that's a reference to the actual physical design of the book, but the state of Bavaria has made it clear the text will be flanked by "scholarly" annotations that Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder says will "demystify" the text and show how it contributed  to the rise of Nazism.  [The Independent]

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