Monday, February 23, 2015

CAMP CREEPY (NANCY DREW AND THE CLUE CREW) by Carolyn Keene and Macky Pamintuan

A teacher wrote to me, asking for books about Taos Pueblo. I know about Clark's Little Boy With Three Names but haven't read it yet, so went looking to see what is out there.

No surprise that I found a lot of older books with hostile and savage Indians, but I also found Camp Creepy in the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew series. As of this writing (Feb 23 2015) there are 41 books in this series of books for children in elementary grades.

Here's the synopsis from the Simon and Schuster website:

In Camp Creepy, the girls take a school trip to Taos, New Mexico! A classmate’s uncle has opened a new camp and the kids of River Heights Elementary are invited to come test it out. But when a series of mysterious incidents ruin Nancy’s art project, Nancy thinks something eerie is at work. Could she have upset the Taos Indian spirits? 

At that website, you can read chapter one. It opens with this:
"And the team with the winning Native American model gets to spend the weeklong break at a camp in northern New Mexico!" Mrs. Ramirez announced. "In keeping with the spirit of the Native Americans, whatever you use must come from items around your house. This is a green competition."
Though the idea that Native peoples waste(d) nothing is what we might call a positive value attributed to Native peoples, it is also part of the romantic stereotyping that is all too common. On the next page, I like the first part of this excerpt:
"If we want to win this competition, we'll obviously have to focus on just one group of Native Americans," George said with a grin. "The Taos Indians. I saw a documentary about them last night on TV. I know all about their culture."
Focusing on just one group is a plus, but...

The back cover of the book says that the crew builds a model of Taos Pueblo, but before they can enter it in the contest, it is destroyed. The text there asks:
Have the girls angered the Taos Indian spirits by building the model, or is the thread something closer to home?
It isn't enough to name one group (in this case Taos) but then attribute stereotypical attributes (waste nothing) and "Indian spirits" to that group. Maybe a parallel will help make this clear. Most people know that the "ditzy blonde" is a stereotype. If an author gave that blonde a name but still used ditzy and similar attributes to describe her, that would not be ok. Where that parallel doesn't work is that most people have blonde friends or colleagues, whose very presence in their lives shows them the fallacy of the dumb blonde stereotype. In contrast, most people don't have Native friends and colleagues who would be able to counter Native stereotyping.

The local library has a copy of this book. I'll try to get over there, read it, and update this post. But--based on what I've seen so far, I can't recommend it.

1 comment:

Wolf Titan Reading said...

wow, talk about judging a book by its cover, really though you should read the book before judging it. Sure it might have some stereotype views but think of the time most of the nancy drew books came from, So really i can't take this for a review to not read a book like this since not even you know what the book is about.