Commons shuns Lord of the Rings
Among 62 MPs who donated books to their local children's libraries this week, just five handed over JK Rowling's works and three Tolkien's (one Lord of the Rings and two Hobbits).
Last month 550 new heads at a National College for School Leadership conference were asked: "Is JK Rowling a better author than JRR Tolkien?" (only to test the equipment, apparently). A third couldn't decide but the remaining vote went in favour of Tolkien (43.6 versus 23.8 per cent).
The Potter fans were former Labour education minister Jacqui Smith, Labour MPs Geoffrey Robinson, Paul Stinchcombe and Jim Cunningham, and Tory schools spokesman Graham Brady.
Education Secretary Estelle Morris, is backing Science Year with her donation of Inventing the Modern World, published by Dorling Kindersley. Bob Marshall-Andrews (Labour, Medway) has donated The Lord of the Rings and copies of The Hobbit come from Lib Dems Lord Tope and Steve McCabe. Tolkien grew up in Mr McCabe's constituency, Birmingham Hall Green.
Arts minister Baroness Blackstone, who hosted presentations in support of libraries at the Commons this week, has given Jacqueline Wilson's The Dare Game. In general contemporary authors were well represented with Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Jerry Spinelli and Beverley Naidoo, among the choices.
Among those who settled on classics, former Tory education minister Cheryl Gillan went for CS Lewis's Narnia novels. Another former Tory education minister Michael Fallon chose a BBC anthology of classic children's poems. Colin Pickthall (Lab, West Lancs) defended his choice of Treasure Island, saying Jim Hawkins is a child of a single parent. "It's a multi-racial story about disabled people (Long John Silver) and animal welfare (the parrot)," he said.
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