Sunday, June 12, 2011

Nicola Killen's NOT ME!

This morning, friend and colleague Thomas Crisp pointed me to Nicola Killen's Not Me! One look at the cover, and you know why he wrote to me. He does outstanding work as a scholar and a teacher. In fact, last month Tom won the Marguerite Cogorno Radencich Award as Florida's Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading for 2011.

Not Me! was published in 2010 by Egmont Books in the UK.

I guess Killen and her editors at Egmont don't know that playing Indian in this stereotypical way is not cool. I'm pretty sure that Killen wouldn't have a kid in black face...  And even if she did, her editors would reject it outright...

Digging around online, I see that its Subjects categories include Social Issues, and Manners & Etiquette. Pretty ironic, eh?  Playing Indian is a social issue! It may seem like harmless fun, and some may characterize it as "honoring" American Indians, but, either way, it isn't harmless and it isn't honorable.

Instead, it contributes to mistaken and erroneous ideas about who American Indians were/are... Honor goes hand in hand with respect. How would you define or demonstrate respect?

Digging around some more, I see (on blog posts and AmazonUK reviews) that young children love it and want it read to them again and again.

Nobody says WTF!!! (Ok, that isn't a polite thing to say, but I'm a bit frustrated reading all the comments about "how wonderful" it is...) 

I'm tagging this as not recommended.

Update: Monday, 8:12 AM CST, June 13, 2011

I submitted a comment yesterday to Killen's blog. She replied, and I've replied. If you're interested in the developing conversation, here's the link: Show and Tell: The Picturebook Makers.

I also submitted a comment to the Not Me! page on the Amazon website. It generated a response from "J Bennett" who also submitted a review saying:

"I love this book. Just the perfect gift for any little ones that you may know. I wish I had more nephews and nieces to buy this for! Cute and fun in equal measure!"

I don't know if she submitted her review before or after reading mine.


Sarah said...

*facepalm* Seriously? You would think with all the work accomplished by your blog and other scholars that in *2010* at least ONE person at Egmont would have said, "Hey, maybe we should rethink this..." Then again, I think of Nancy Carlson's 2004 *My Family is Forever* and realize that it's obvious we still have an awfully long way to go. This is awful, Debbie. I'm so sorry.

Debbie Reese said...

I looked in WorldCat... over 400 Illinois libraries have Not Me! Have you looked at WorldCat numbers for books you've worked on, like MY FAMILY IS FOREVER?

Anonymous said...

I read your comments on the author's blog, and I'm glad you spoke up about it.

Anonymous said...

I greatly appreciate your blog and check it frequently as a resource to help provide an analysis of imagery and text my children encounter in their books. thank you!
I didn't see your comments on amazon, were they removed? If so that is almost worse than the book itself.

Debbie Reese said...


Yes, my post at the Amazon page is gone.

I wish I had copied my comments somewhere. I didn't think they'd be deleted.

I'm going to do my best at recalling what I said. I'll add a new blog post about the deletion.

rohini said...

it was realy wonderful blog..!