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THE RIGHTS OF THE READER by Daniel Pennac Kirkus Star


by Daniel Pennac & illustrated by Quentin Blake & translated by Sarah Adams

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3801-6
Publisher: Candlewick

Much improved by a new translation and the addition of Blake’s thoughtful introduction and inspired illustrations, this witty plaint from a popular novelist and former teacher should finally find as wide an audience in the United States as it enjoys in France and the United Kingdom. In a series of loosely connected essays, Pennac recaptures the transformation from preliterate listener to eager new reader and writer that most children experience. Rightly noting that that eagerness often flickers and dies when children are left to nurture it on their own, he suggests effective means of rekindling it. He closes with a ten-point manifesto that grants readers the right to skip, dip, stop and even re-read. Adams’s sprightly rendition is well matched by spot sketches portraying a range of ordinary people in acts of bookish avoidance or delight. Pennac sticks largely to European fiction for his many quotes and references, but his message is universal, and many adults—particularly those obsessed with, as Blake puts it, “tests and targets”—would benefit from absorbing it. Previously published in Canada as Better Than Life (1994). (Essays. Adult)