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In a comment to his post about weeding books, Roger Sutton said that Horn Book just received the 25th anniversary edition of Amazing Grace and that the page on which Grace is shown playing Indian is gone (she's pretending to be Longfellow's Hiawatha). Here's his comment:
This is the illustration he's talking about. It was in the original version of the book, published by Dial in 1991. The author is Mary Hoffman; the illustrator is Caroline Binch:
For those who don't know the book, the main character is a girl named Grace who wants to be Peter Pan in the play her class is going to do. Other kids tell her she can't be Peter because she's a girl and he's a boy, and, that she's Black and he's White. Stung--as any kid would be--she imagines herself in all kinds of roles, including Hiawatha. That she's "by the shining Big-Sea-Water" tells us she is imagining herself as the Hiawatha of Longfellow's imagination (there was, in fact, a real person named Hiawatha).
But see how Grace "plays" Hiawatha? In a stereotypical way. She sits cross legged, torso bare, arms crossed and raised up (I don't know why so many statues show Indians with arms crossed and lifted off the chest that way), barefoot, with a painted face and stoic look. Amazing Grace
came out in 1991. In 1992, a person from whom I've learned a great deal, wrote about it. That person: Ginny Moore Kruse. In her article "No Single Season: Multicultural Literature for All Children, published in Wilson Library Bulletin 66 30-3
, she wrote:
Are the book's multiple themes so welcome that the act of "playing Indian" escaped comment by most U.S. reviewers...that critics relaxed their standards for evaluation? No, such images recur so frequently that when they do, nobody notices. Well, almost nobody but the children who in real life are Indian.
Claiming that only American Indian children are apt to notice "playing Indian," "sitting Indian style," or picture book animals "dressed up" like American Indians does not excuse the basic mistake. Self-esteem is decreased for the affected peoples, an accurate portrayals are skewed for everyone else.
This change is big news in children's literature. I'm grateful to Roger for sharing it. But let's return to his words. Roger suggested that the absence of Grace/Hiawatha in the new edition is the result of "public shaming."
Its absence can be seen as the result of public shaming---but it also be seen as a a step forward in what we give to children.
Might we say it is gone because its author, illustrator, and publisher decided that the self-esteem of Native children matters? And, maybe, they decided that having it in there was a disservice to non-Native readers, too, skewing what they know about Native peoples? Maybe they just decided it was dated, and in an effort to market the book to today's readers, that page would hurt sales.
Today, I wish I was near Ginny's hometown. I'd call her and see if she wanted to join me for a cup of tea. I'm sure it'd be a delightful conversation.
[JM] Roger Sutton has been the Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Inc., since 1996. He is widely recognized as being among the country’s leading experts on children’s literature. So it wasn’t without a little trepidation that I asked Roger for an … Continue reading
I participated in the "Are we doing it white?" conversation at Read Roger (Roger Sutton's blog at Horn Book; Sutton is the executive editor at Horn Book; The Horn Book is highly regarded in children's literature). His 'we' is white people and the 'it' is reviewing. He references a conversation he had with librarian Nina Lindsay in which she asked if it is time to "shake up our standards" in reviewing.
At one point in the 'Are we doing it white' conversation, Roger said he would love to have more reviewers at Horn Book that aren't white, and that he is "intensely devoted" to "getting out information about cultural diversity--who's out there, what's out there, and what's NOT out there" (see his comment at 12:28). I reviewed for Horn Book in the 1990s.
I responded (at 1:56) with this:
Question for Roger:
Remember when you decided it was inappropriate for me to use the word stereotype to characterize a kid playing Indian? You decided to give the review to someone else. Later, in a review of a nonfiction book about California missions, I said the author was ignoring new research on the missions, and that review got reassigned, too.
Those were terse moments for me. I was furious. All the power was yours, and it dictated what I could or could not say as a HB reviewer. Because of those two experiences, it was not hard for me to decide to move on and focus on my dissertation. I think if you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have left.
Would it be different if I submitted those reviews today?
His reply (at 2:29):
Debbie, how could I forget?
Actually, i *do* forget what happened with the book about the missions but remember the playing-Indian question very well. In this book, THE BIRTHDAY BEAR, two contemporary white children and their grandfather, among other activities, put on fake headdresses and pretend to be Indians.
In regard to your review of this book, nothing would be different today. You criticized it not for inaccuracy or stereotyping but because the characters in the book engaged in an activity you found objectionable. We can’t knock a book because we morally disapprove of its fictional characters’ actions. What I said then I’ll say now: I take the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights very seriously, and I believe “materials should not be proscribed because of doctrinal or partisan disapproval” with all my heart.
I haven't been able to find the review I submitted (it was written and submitted in the 1990s). I'll keep looking. Perhaps there is one in Horn Book's files. I probably gave it a 6 in my overall rating, which is "unacceptable in style, content, and/or illustration."
I wrote an article based on the rejection of that review. It includes some of the emails that were exchanged by me and Roger.
If you'd like to get a more in-depth look, I'm sharing the article as a pdf: Contesting Ideology in Children's Book Reviewing.
It was published in 2000 in a Studies in American Indian Literatures
, the journal of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures
As readers of AICL know, I don't recommend books where kids are playing Indian. They invariably do that in a stereotypical way. During the time I was reviewing for Horn Book, they were sending me books with Native content because they believed I had the expertise to review those books. In the case of The Birthday Bear
, Roger also felt that it should not have been sent to me because the kids playing Indian was "peripheral" to the story. It may have been to him, but it wasn't peripheral to me.
As the article and the on-going discussion at Read Roger
show, neither Roger or myself have shifted in our views on this particular incident.
Roger titled his post "Are we doing it white?"
My answer to Roger?
Yes, you are. Indeed, you do it with glee, as evident in your reply to Sarah Park Dahlen (see his comment at 3:37) where you say that you "happily recommended" a book in which kids are playing Indian.
Please read the conversation at Are we doing it white
. I appreciate the personal notes of support I've received, and I especially appreciate the work we're all doing to push back on the power structures that use that power to affirm the status quo. We're all doing it for young people who read. What they read matters.
If you are looking forward to seeing Roger at ALA wearing a lavender-colored suit (as promised recently on Facebook) — this blog post is for you.
With The Art of The Wind Rises (April 2014), VIZ Media of San Francisco has published a visually stunning companion to Japanese director Hayao Mikazaki’s visually stunning animated film. Those who have seen the film know how immersive the experience is; how you feel transported, via the lushness and detail of the animation, into Taisho-era (1912-1926) Japan — and this book both extends the experience and takes you behind the scenes to show how it was done. For lovers of the movie, it’s a dream: almost 300 pages, in gorgeous color, of concept sketches, backgrounds, character and machine designs, and film stills, all augmented with commentary on the creative process by the film’s director, its art director and supervising animator, and others.
Not to get off-topic, but the book also explains what wasn’t at all clear to me watching the film: that the main character, Jiro, is a composite of Japanese aviation pioneer Jiro Horikoshi and novelist Tatsuo Hori, two influential figures in late-1930s Japan. I’m not sure that Miyazaki pulled off this feat (merging two actual historical people to make one fictional character), but he definitely succeeded in making a movie of unsurpassed beauty — and he and his team sure did rock that purple suit of Jiro’s. (Back on topic!) Here’s color designer Michiyo Yasuda on why: “For Jiro’s suit, I chose a light purple that’s a bit on the bright side. I think nowadays, new [Mitsubishi] employees wear gray or navy suits, but that’s not very interesting, so I tried to bring out a certain freshness with a soft and gentle color.” And yes, the book includes several stills of Jiro in the suit, including one large double-page spread of Jiro as a young man, determinedly striding into the future, as his first airplane design gets its first test flight.
Will Roger’s suit measure up to Jiro’s? Those who know his natty style and penchant for purple bet yes. But all will be revealed in Vegas!
The post Of purple suits and such: The Art of The Wind Rises appeared first on The Horn Book.
By: Beth Kephart
Blog: Beth Kephart Books
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, Jenny Brown
, Dennis Abrams
, John Rocco
, Children's Book Conference
, Peter Brown
, Raina Telgemeier
, Pamela Paul
, Roger Sutton
, Add a tag
Poor Dennis Abrams of Publishing Perspectives
! He was given the task of interviewing me, and it was one of those days when I was talking too fast about, well, everything. That Dennis was able to create this beautiful profile
for Publishing Perspectives
says much about his talent for deep listening and fine cohesion. I am grateful, and I am so looking forward to the Publishing Perspectives Children's Book Conference
, to be held on May 31st at the Scholastic Headquarters in New York City, where I'll be joining Peter Brown
, John Rocco, and Raina Telgemeier on a panel Dennis moderates. Earlier in the day, conference participants will meet Pamela Paul, Jenny Brown, Roger Sutton, David Levithan, Ken Wright, Rosemary Stimola, and Erica Rand Silverman, among others.
I hope to find some of you there. And, again, thank you, Dennis.
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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, Brian Selznick
, Caldecott Award
, Canadian bloggers
, Canadian children's books
, Canadian picture books
, Dandi Daley Mackall
, Edgar Awards
, Harry Potter
, Matthew Kirby
, movie news
, New Yorkers reading
, Roger Sutton
, sassy clocks
, street photography
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The laptop of my infinite sadness continues to remain broken which wrecks a certain special kind of havoc with my gray cells. To distract myself, I plunge headlong into the silliest news of the week. Let’s see if there’s anything here to console a battered Bird brain (something tells me that didn’t come out sounding quite right…).
- The best news of the day is that Matthew Kirby was the recent winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery in the juvenile category for his fabuloso book Icefall. My sole regret is that it did not also win an Agatha Award for “traditional mystery” in the style of Agatha Christie. Seems to me it was a shoo-in. I mean, can you think of any other children’s book last year that had such clear elements of And Then There Were None? Nope. In any case, Rocco interviews the two winners (the YA category went to Dandi Daley Mackall) here and here.
- It’s so nice when you find a series on Facebook and then discover it has a website or blog equivalent in the “real world” (howsoever you choose to define that term). The Underground New York Public Library name may sound like it’s a reference to our one and only underground library (the Andrew Heiskell branch, in case you were curious) but it’s actually a street photography site showing what New Yorkers read on the subways. Various Hunger Games titles have made appearances as has Black Heart by Holly Black and some other YA/kid titles. Just a quick word of warning, though. It’s oddly engaging. You may find yourself flipping through the pages for hours.
- A reprint of Roger Sutton’s 2010 Ezra Jack Keats Lecture from April 2011 has made its way online. What Hath Harry Wrought? puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in perspective now that we’ve some distance. And though I shudder to think that Love You Forever should get any credit for anything ever (growl grumble snarl raspberry) what Roger has to say here is worthy of discussion.
- And in my totally-not-surprised-about-this department… From Cynopsis Kids:
“Fox Animation acquires the feature film rights to the kid’s book The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom, per THR. A fairy tale mashup by first-time author by Christopher Healy and featuring illustrations by Todd Harris, revolves around the four princes from Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Chernin Entertainment (Rise of Planet of the Apes) is set to produce the movie. Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children’s Books release The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (432 pages) today.”
If y’all haven’t read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your King
Blog: the pageturn
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, YA Books
, Chicken Spaghetti
, Christoph Niemann
, Donna Jo Napoli
, Hunger Games
, Kiersten White
, Lee Wind
, Los Angeles
, Mr. Belding
, New York
, Read Roger
, Roger Sutton
, Saved by the Bell
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The kidlitosphere was hopping this weekend with news, reviews, and commentary. Here are some of the gems we uncovered while reading through our blogroll:
- Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? went to the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles and shared some of his favorite quotes. I loved this one from Donna Jo Napoli: “Any civilization is built on empathy. If dreadful things happen to you, you learn empathy. …And for the protected child …the safest way for them to develop empathy is through a book.” Yes.
- Oh, Roger. We adore you. Thanks so much for sharing your criticisms thoughts on the strike-through trend.
- Sarah’s YA Movie News posts on her blog GreenBeanTeenQueen are some of my favorites! She mentions the Hunger Games movie stills many of us have seen – I’m not a fan, I have to admit. Katniss and Peeta are fighting for their lives so why do they look so pretty and stagnant? And what do you make of the upcoming Snow White movies?
- Chicken Spaghetti shares a great list of picture books about New York. I’d also love to add SUBWAY by Christoph Niemann, which is one of my recent favorites that captures the energy and vitality of New York’s iconic subway system.
- Kiersten White’s blog is one of my favorite things – she is just completely charming and hilarious and silly. Sure, her book PARANORMALCY just got a director…but what Kiersten is really excited about is Saved by the Bell’s Mr. Belding tweeting about it! I would be too. I mean, it’s Saved by the Bell!
- It’s been all over the web but, just in case you haven’t seen it, these minimalist posters of children’s stories from Flavorwire are a must-see. Do you have a favorite? This is mine:
In his essay "Go Big or Go Home," reprinted in A FAMILY OF READERS: THE BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
(Candlewick 2010), Roger Sutton opines that "what reluctant [boy] readers don't want are books filled with interpersonal emotional drama...It's not that boy readers are afraid of emotions, exactly, it's that they want to feel them in service to high stakes...Boys like to think Big."
I was thinking about this in context of Robins I, II, and III.
Robin I, you will recall, was Dick Grayson. Robin III was Tim Drake.
Both Dick Grayson Robin and Tim Drake Robin are much loved by the fandom and are among the most popular characters in the DC Universe.
Robin II was Jason Todd, whom the fandom voted to kill off.
Let me address this in context of Tim Drake-Robin and Jason Todd-Robin -- both started off having to fill the shoes of Dick Grayson, but one is liked and the other, really, really not.
I think most of it goes back to Roger's statement above. Tim Drake-Robin is not insensitive -- he is concerned about his girlfriend's safety and is sometimes miffed by Batman's treatment of him and others. He, like all the Robins, is an orphan. But his emotions serve higher stakes -- the fight against evil and his ambition to become the next Batman.
Even better, he is smart, funny, likeable, can use computers, and can kick butt when necessary. He came to be Robin by figuring out that Bruce Wayne is Batman and is the leader of his generation of superheroes, a position that no one questions.
In contrast, Jason Todd's tenure as Robin was filled with overwrought emoting and Sturm und Drang
. Granted, when Bruce Wayne is your "father," a certain amount of this is justified (Dick Grayson Robin rebelled rather memorably on several occasions), but there are limits.
Now, even boy readers want a character to have emotional depth, but at some point "interpersonal emotional drama" becomes off-putting melodrama and self-indulgent navel-gazing. As exemplified in A Death in the Family
, Jason Todd-Robin was pointlessly reckless, and endlessly and annoyingly self-absorbed and whiny.
To me, this is the kiss of death for any protagonist but particularly for a boy protagonist who is supposed to appeal to boy readers.
By: Brian Minter,
Blog: First Book
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Authors & Illustrators
, Books & Reading
, Andrea Davis Pinkney
, children's book authors
, Christopher Paul Curtis
, David Levithan
, David Small
, E.B. Lewis
, Erica Perl
, First Book
, Holly Black
, Jacqueline Woodson
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, John Scieszka
, Judith Viorst
, kid's books
, Kyle Zimmer
, Laura Amy Schlitz
, Laura Geringer
, Leonard Marcus
, Lois Ehlert
, M.T. Anderson
, Marla Frazee
, Mitali Perkins
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, Rebecca Stead
, Roger Sutton
, Rosemary Wells
, Sarah Stewart
, Tad Hills
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A collection of our favorite authors and illustrators sat down to help us tell the story of First Book:
The Story of First Book from First Book on Vimeo.
He also calls me a boozin' blogger: Read Roger's take on the SLJ cover controversy is at Step Away from the Bar, Ladies. (Bonus points because as the former lawyer in the group, I did step away from the bar!)
Roger also shows a cover that a Horn Book subscriber objected to. While its from a few years ago, it just goes to show some of the narrowness that Teri Lesesne rants about at Professor Nana.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
By: Julie Fortenberry
Blog: Children's Illustration
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, Debbie Reynolds
, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman
, Peter Paul and Mary
, Roger Sutton
, Pete Seeger
, Trini Lopez
, Leonard Nimoy
, Fred Hellerman
, Ronnie Gilbert
, Add a tag
And in case you missed it, there's a simply swell interview with Roger Sutton on Seven Impossible Things up and running. Apparently he could take down Seamus Heaney in a bar fight. Who knew?
Once upon a time I was on the 2007 Newbery committee and it was a lovely time. But I was a blogger and I liked to write reviews of potential contenders so as to post them on my site. ALSC, as it turned out, had not had to contend with this issue before. So it is with great pleasure that I turn your attention to a recent School Library Journal article Should Members of Book Award Committees Be Allowed to Blog? All sorts of hotsy-totsy topics come up in it. Roger Sutton's threat to quit the Caldecott committee if he couldn't blog. What happened when someone thought that Nina Lindsay was on the 2007 and not the 2008 committee. The final decision . . .
Let us all exhale a sigh of relief then. As Mr. Sutton said, "calmer heads have prevailed."
Now to go repost all my review from 2006. Oog.
Thanks to Educating Alice for the link.
It's become a bit of a problem. I used to write these online reviews, sans blog, that didn't get all that much attention. And with the exception of one YA author who shall remain nameless (he knows who he is) I never received so much as a peep of complaint from any writer over my words.
Times have changed. I've moved up in the world to this sweet library in the heart of Manhattan. I've grown accustomed to the fact that authors are going to come to my town and that I'm located a scant block or so from their editors. They say hello. We chat. It's all very pleasant. Then I sit down with one of their books, find it blah or (worse) notso hotso and therein lies my dilemma. Do I write a negative review and end up dealing with a sticky situation or be honest and deal with the consequences?
You know who's currently playing the world's smallest violin for me right now? Roger Sutton. Roger's for honesty, man. We can't go about watering down our reviews willy-nilly just because, boo-hoo, some poor author's going to feel bad somewhere. NEVER! Says he, "The author-reviewer relationship is unavoidably adversarial: one is judging the other. To have it otherwise means we should just all go work in publicity." That's a mighty good point. After all, I'm not exactly getting paid here.
I was recently blurbed on an author's website as liking a book when what I had written was a brief "What I'm Reading Now" mention saying that it was good "thus far." And the "thus", suffice it to say, didn't extend all that far after all. I'll end up writing the review anyway, of course. If I don't feel good about it, that's fine. Reviewing isn't all sunshine, kittens, and roses after all. I appreciate a healthy kick in the pants to remind me of this once in a while.
Digest /v. dɪˈdʒɛst, daɪ-; n. ˈdaɪdʒɛst/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[v. di-jest, dahy-; n. dahy-jest]:
1.to convert (food) in the alimentary canal into absorbable form for assimilation into the system.
2.to condense, abridge, or summarize.
3. to plunk together in a veritable hodgepodge.
4. to give the author of a particular blog the excuse she needs to work the word "hodgepodge" into one of her postings.
Here are some trinkets and tidbits of an especially shiny nature that I've not had time to properly digest this week. Between this and that my brain is not working to its full capacity. Fortunately that means that the brains of others work where mine has ground to a rusty dusty halt.
Less excuses. More postings.
First on the list is Roger Sutton. You all know Roger. Editor of Horn Book. Bearer of the sacred throat vinculum. This week, he mentioned
that the Horn-Book Globe Book Awards committee is beginning their deliberations and you are invited to offer your bets on who the winners might be. So exciting! I side with the commenter that suggested that A Drowned Maiden's Hair
finally get its due. Roger also done went and linked to the article Circle of Cliches
via The Daily Telegraph
. I'll have to speak more on this later this week. It talks about the words or phrases reviewers love far too much. I know that for my part there are certain comfort turns of phrase that I'll reuse more often than I really should. Give the piece a glance alongside Roger's response
Thanks to Children's Illustration
we got a glimpse of some remarkable movie posters from back in the day. Blogger Michael Sporn also offered this great bit of info:
Through Aug. 1, the Posteritati Movie Poster Gallery (239 Centre St.) lets New Yorkers escape into the past with a collection of art from fantasy films ranging from 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to modern-day favorites like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Incredibles.”
Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.
If that means I get to see posters like this 1960 Czech image of Dumbo then I'm in.
Those of you in town for Book Expo might want to consider making a side trip.The Longstockings
may have a lock on the Pippi blog name, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot on over to the excelsior file to read David Elzey's view
from an adult perspective of Sweden's hitherto best-known redhead. Great opening sentence too. "Pippi scared me when I was young."
If the webcomic Questionable Content
is unknown to you, watch and learn. This one
goes out to all the librarians out there. I've never heard the term "shush" sounds so very very dirty.
And because of Mo Willems
I now know that Jon Scieszka has a new website
. It's very nice. I'm particularly fond of the map that shows Population That Wishes They Were Reading Scieszka Books
. The one thing I would change? I want that big scary picture of Jon at the top to say "Gleep" unexpectedly and without warning. Is that too much to ask?
Finally, I've been memed. I'll meme it right back tomorrow. Cross my heart.
By: Editorial Anonymous,
And another reason you need to read The Horn Book cover-to-cover.
Here he talks about the American Girl catalog as "toy porn":
Don't miss the very interesting comments on this post.