Thursday, 3 January 2008

A New Year’s Resolution for Stephen Harper: Read to His Kids

Our Prime Minister has a reputation for being a good family man, so it’s not surprising that the books Yann Martel sent him December 24 are good ones to read to children. Martel has been giving books to Harper every two weeks since last spring, as a part of a campaign to encourage the PM to find some "tranquility" at the end of the day by reading.

The latest, holiday shipment is the 19th in the series. So far Martel has received one acknowledgement—for the first book, The Death of Ivan Illytch by Leo Tolstoy.

The books this time around--“three books to make you and your family dream”--are The Brothers Lionheart, by Astrid Lindgren ; Imagine A Day, by Sarah L. Thomson and Rob Gonsalves; and The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. In the cover letter Martel offers a little meditation about the importance of religious freedom in the Canadian Charter of Rights, congratulates Harper for being discreet in his Christian faith, and ends by speaking of the joy that is expressed in the birth of a baby at Christmas.

Martel’s holiday choices are quite a switch from his last offering: Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Like all three of the Christmas books, Kafka's grim little fable involves a great leap of imagination, but the magic in it is dark and troubling. “A sort of cautionary tale,” Martel writes in the letter accompanying that gift.

No, Metamorphosis is not a book to read to the kids, but perhaps the Christmas parcel will make it through to the Harper family. Martel gets full marks for his persistence and the care with which he chooses his gifts.

No comments: