- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Award to avoid

“The Newberry award is the best-known annual prize for children’s literature. This year, the book selected contains what one teacher calls, ‘Howard Stern type shock treatment.’ But in fact, that’s nothing new it seems almost impossible for a book to win the prize unless it deals with drug addiction, racism, disease, sexual deviance or some other shock-the-booboisie delight for librarians determined to overcome their profession’s unhip image.

“I suppose as a parent I should express shock. But actually, I have found the Newberry award a very helpful guide. My kids learned long ago that any book bearing the Newberry gold star is to be avoided like the plague. If not perverse, it will be vapid; if not politically correct, then it will be grimly didactic. We own hundreds of children’s books, many contemporary but no Newberry winners of later vintage than ‘Johnny Tremain’ (1942). That saves a lot of time.”

David Frum, writing on “Well Imagine That,” Sunday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

Campus climate

“, only two of the 12 students had ever heard of a major conservative intellectual like Thomas Sowell.

“I had also asked the students how many of them had read anything by Friedrich Hayek, a libertarian thinker on political and economic issues who had won the Nobel Prize. Only two had ever read or been assigned a text by Hayek.

“But every hand went up when I asked how many students had been required to read a book by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is a radical whose animus against his own country is so great that he has described the attack on Pearl Harbor as ‘a good thing’ and warned in his most recent book that the ‘American empire’ is a threat to ‘global survival.’”

David Horowitz, from his new book, “Indoctrination U.: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom”

Cynical triumph

“NBA journeyman John Amaechi’s coming out has already spawned hundreds of rote conversations about homophobia and sports. Beat writers have probed players about how they’d deal with a gay teammate. Whether it’s a mark of progress or the triumph of collective cynicism, Amaechi’s confession has mostly been seen as either an attempt to sell his memoir, ‘Man in the Middle,’ or an irrelevant, self-indulgent gesture. Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel, for one, squawked that Amaechi’s coming out was ‘so ‘90s.’

“Most of the time, ‘Man in the Middle’ reads like a conventional sports memoir. An awkward, fat, working-class kid finds refuge in basketball. After learning the fundamentals, he emerges from his shell. With the encouragement of his courageous single mother, Amaechi makes it big and sees the world.

“e seems to have led one of the most celibate existences of any athlete since A.C. Green.”

Kevin Arnovitz, writing on “The Loneliness of the Gay Basketball Player,” Friday in Slate at www.slate.com

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