Sunday, November 08, 2009

Indians in Daugherty's DANIEL BOONE

Peter D. Sieruta's blog is called Collecting Children's Books. I read it from time to time. Today, I read "The Mural in the Gym" (posted on November 3, 2009), wherein he writes about the works of James Daugherty.  I recommend you click over to his blog and read about Daugherty's Daniel Boone. It won the Newbery Medal in 1940. Sieruta posted pages from inside the book, including this one:

The Newbery Project has a particularly troubling excerpt from the book, but reading customer reviews at Amazon, it is pretty clear to me that the racist depictions in text and illustration are not seen as problematic (racist) by at least some readers. I gather it is out or print (rare for a Newbery winner), but, it looks like a lot of libraries own it. I wonder if it circulates? I wonder how it is used in classrooms?


jpm said...

Oh, my gosh. I remember that illustration -- obviously I read the book at some point during childhood, but that seems to be all that stuck with me about the book. Strangely, one thing I remember that bothered me about the picture is the placement of the man brandishing the stone hatchet, who looks like he will be hitting one of his comrades-in-arms if he actually lands the blow. I remember thinking that he must be helping Boone. The text must have set me straight on that.

The exaggerated musculature & bone structure on all of them makes the picture seem like a forerunner of Frank Frazetta's work. What a piece of a)beefcake and b) racist propaganda that one page is. The story you linked to about "the mural in the gym" indicates that at least one example Daugherty's public work --STILL ON DISPLAY where it must be pretty hard to ignore -- exemplifies ultra-"masculinity" as well as bigotry. Hmmm. Looking at the other illustrations from Daniel Boone featured in "the mural in the gym" blog post -- it seem to me that the females being attacked in the canoe are mere brushstrokes compared to the super-muscular Native men who have set upon them. Not sure what this means, but it might be part of a trend.

Debbie Reese said...

Yes! There is an interesting thing going on here with the way that he drew the women.

Hmmmm... it would be interesting to study illustrations in some of these early books. I am thinking of the one you mention, JPM, (of the women in the canoe) and the way the woman is shown being attacked in MATCHLOCK GUN...