June 17th, 2013



Chrystia Freeland's Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else has a provocative title that does not accurately summarize the analysis of the book.  In Book Review No. 11, I hope to highlight the research opportunities, and the contested territory in the political economy of globalization, that the book really points toward.

Thus, dear reader, if you're hoping that the main title is an appeal to your inner Marxist, and that the book ends with a call for torches, pitchforks, and a storming of the Winter Palace, you will be disappointed.

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Ms Freeland's most useful contribution might be to suggest to readers, not necessarily of Reason or of Public Choice Theory, that rent seeking contributes to the entrenchment of those who have an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)
jimmy kick original series

Book #6: Enid Blyton's Coral Storybook by Enid Blyton

Title: Enid Blyton's Coral Storybook
Author: Enid Blyton
Genre: kidlit, short (really short!) stories, toys

Enid Blyton is one of the best-loved children's authors of all time. This is a new edition of a collection of her stories for younger children, delightfully illustrated by Angie Sage. While the stories are an ideal length for reading aloud, the vocabulary is simple enough for the beginning reader to tackle for her or himself. (from the blurb)

An interesting collection of sixteen short stories that I would put into five broad categories:

- learning to accept/changing preconceived notions about others (“Jinky the Jumping Frog”, “Thirteen O'clock”, “The Beautiful Cricket Ball”, “The Clever Toy Drum”, “Goldie and the Toys”)
- those who are mean getting a taste of their own medicine (“The Kick-Away Shoes”, “Holes in His Stockings”, “Big-Eyes the Enchanter”, “The Naughty Sailor Doll”)
- mostly about animals (“The Dog Who Would Go Digging”, “How John Got His Ducklings”, “Muzzling the Cat”)
- mostly about fairies (“He Didn't Believe in Fairies”, “The Little Toy Stove”, “The Real Live Fairy Doll”)
- light humour (“Dame Thimble and Her Matches”).

The last one is the most explicitly humorous story in the collection; while some others had funny moments, this one - about a woman who wants something from someone but has to do a string of other things first - was most clearly a comic story.

Two of the stories had familiar themes. I think Blyton may have used the plot of “Holes in His Stockings” in another story as well. I say that because one of the earliest stories I wrote (at a time when I did that often) was a piece that altered the situation and characters, but used the main twist of this story pretty much wholesale. However, I didn't get this book till many years later.

I also recognized the story of “Muzzling the Cat”. I wonder if Blyton borrowed the general idea of an older story - putting a bell on a cat so that its enemies (birds in this case) would be able to tell where it was - and re-wrote it for her audience; if her story had been retold elsewhere, where I read it; or if it is a common enough plotline that several people have used it independently.

A young child reading this book may wonder about the titular stove in “The Little Toy Stove”. It's presented as a young girl's toy, but at the same time it seems that it's not just a piece of plastic (or whatever) with a picture of a hob painted or stuck on...the mother of the little girl in the story won't let her do “real cooking” on it, because it's dangerous.

And while the blurb says that the lengths of the stories are “ideal” for reading to or by young readers, some of them felt a little too short for that to me, although I've never had to read a story to a small child (to get him/her to sleep or otherwise), so that opinion can be taken with a grain of salt. I think readers/listeners may want to follow or precede those stories (particularly “The Little Toy Stove”) with another one from the collection.

A pleasant collection, overall. As a fan (and as a collector!) I'd like to get my hands on the other books in this series as well.