"My grandson has been on his first trip to Turoa snowboarding this week," writes a reader. "An adult friend dared him to snowboard down in just undies yesterday for $11. Quite an amazing feat for an 11- year-old, given it was snowing at the time!"

White pages, white faces

While some political ideologies claim minorities are taking over, the reality is often very different. Only 1 per cent of British children's books feature a main character who is black or from an ethnic minority, an investigation has found. Of the 9115 children's books published last year, researchers found that only 391 or 4 per cent featured black or minority ethnic characters. Just 1 per cent had a black or minority main character, and a quarter of the books submitted featured diversity only in their background casts. This compares with the 32.1 per cent of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England. The researchers found that the books more likely to feature black and ethnic minorities were contemporary realism, and those dealing with social justice issues, such as war and conflict, with very few in books classed as comedy. Author Nikesh Shukla, who has been a major force behind the push for diversity in British publishing, said: "When you're figuring out the world, being able to see yourself in books, as well as people who don't look like you, is really important. It means you see your story as valid, and it can contribute to who you imagine yourself to be - and a kid should be able to imagine themselves as anyone in the world." (The Guardian)

Did you know

1. That Speedos were invented in 1928 by Alexander MacRae, a Scottish underwear maker in Australia. The swim brief only became popular after the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne when the Australian team (all wearing Speedos) won eight gold medals. By 1968, 27 out of 29 gold medallists wore Speedos.

2. That the US military developed a set of playing cards with the names and faces of the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein's Government on them so the troops would learn to recognise them while playing cards.


3. Two Oxford students heard that the author Rudyard Kipling earned 10 shillings a word so they sent him 10 shillings and asked for one of his very best words. Kipling replied: "Thanks."

Penguin invasion

Opened the office freezer and found this...
Opened the office freezer and found this...

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