Ethical baby - Hit and Miss
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Date: 28 April, 2006
'Egmont say they want to turn writers "into successful authors and children into passionate readers". Moreover they say they want to consider "the world in which our consumers are growing up.'
Continuing the series on trying to be an ethical parent, Charlotte Haines Lyon celebrates the ethical nature of the Mr Men and Little Miss books.
April 2006 not only celebrated the Queen’s 80th, Trumpton’s 40th but encompassed the 35th birthday of the Mr Men and Little Miss books. As I celebrated this prestigious anniversary, I made a joyous discovery. It’s official; it is not only good to read but it can be positively ethical!
I have to confess that whilst buying ethical products in many areas of life, I hadn’t ever considered the ethics of books. The only qualm has been that book buying is simply literary consumerism. This worry is generally soothed by my conviction that reading is vital to life and society.
It hadn’t occurred to me to worry about the source of paper or the life of the workers involved in producing my favourite pages. It’s a good job then it occurred to Egmont Press, the publishers of Roger Hargreaves’ creations.
Egmont say they want to turn writers “into successful authors and children into passionate readers”. Moreover they say they want to consider “ the world in which our consumers are growing up.”
Hence they use a work force that is treated well and ensure that their paper and board do not have a dire impact on the world. Not an easy task due to the lack enough of paper and board approved by the Forest Stewardship Council – the gold standard.
Egmont have recently published Kensuke’s Kingdom the first book to be made of 100% FSC approved materials. It is hoped that eventually all their books will be published this way. In the meantime they have meticulously graded their sources of paper between one and five. One is illegal and five is FSC approved. They currently only use grade three and above.
Hurrah! I can justify buying Anya yet more books. OK so generally books are bought due to their contents rather than their publisher but who complain when the best books to buy are Mr Strong, Little Miss Sunshine and their contemporaries?
Apparently I am not the only fan of these little books. Last years fiction table compiled by Waterstones, saw Roger Hargreaves beat the likes of John Grisham, Dan Brown and JRR Tolkein. He came third only to the two grand dames of fiction; JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson.
The series has come a long way since the first books were rejected by six major publishers! In fact the series has evolved considerably since one morning in 1971, when young Adam Hargreaves asked his father, “What does a tickle look like?” Within minutes Mr Tickle was born with his incredibly long arms and round orange body.
There are now over 40 characters and stories including my favourites, Mr Bump and Little Miss Trouble. Since the premature death of Hargreaves at the age of 58, the now grown up Adam has taken over the writing of new books. These including the fantastic new celebratory pair, Mr Birthday and Little Miss Birthday.
Never before have two books arrived in our house to such excitement and frantic flipping of pages. Even at the tender age of 15 months, Anya appreciated the simple colourful drawings and especially like the sparkling balloons on the covers.
So often, attempting to live an ethical life is full of compromise and tricky decisions. What a pleasure then, to be able to read great books and feel righteous about it!
For more information:
• Egmont Press - Ethical Publishing
• Mr Men
Read Charlotte’s other ethical parent articles