Monday, October 10, 2011
Your One Book From Planet Earth
That is the premise for The Green Book, a first-person plural point of view science-fiction novella by Jill Paton Walsh. The book was originally published in 1981 by MacMillan, and republished in subsequent editions by Farrar, Straus and Giroux's Sunburst imprint. The Green Book is available as an e-book, too, which is amusing, given the premise of the story.
I've read The Green Book several times since I was a child. It was published before personal computers and cell-phones, and yet (with a few tweaks to account for why the passengers can't bring their audio-visual media devices) remains relevant science-fiction for today's readers. It works as a contemporary children's book, too, as children, not adults, find solutions to the problems of how to survive on a new planet.
Here is the inevitable question: If you had the same constraints as the colonists in The Green Book, what is the one book you would bring? What book would you have brought as a child? It could be literature, or a how-to manual, or a science textbook, but it has to be one volume. You can't take the whole Enclopedia Britannica, for example, but you could take volume 15.
If I were leaving now, I would take my Globe Illustrated Shakespeare with the idea that even if someone else on the ship takes Shakespeare's complete works, it would be handy to have more than one copy. I know Shakespeare's an obvious choice, but I am thinking about my fellow colonists, not just myself! (Besides, I've not read most of the history plays, and I'd hate to leave Earth without knowing them.)
Lucia says she would take Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (and have to explain to the other children what happened in previous volumes). Bede is not home, so I don't know what he would want to bring, but if I had to guess, he'd bring something by Plato. If I were Lucia's age, I would probably have chosen my mother's copy of The Melendy Family, by Elizabeth Enright, which conveniently had three books in one: The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake, and Then There Were Five.