Saturday, April 04, 2015


I'll be visiting the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota next week. The visit will be all-too-brief, I see, as I go through the extensive list of materials they hold!

For example, I was browsing the finding aid for the Richard Scarry materials. Many of his picture books include characters wearing feathered headdresses and fringed buckskin. Those images have been removed/replaced from later editions of the books. I'd love to find letters between people who made the decision(s) to do that! So, I perused the Finding Aid hoping I'd see a file with letters. I didn't, but I did see something else.

One title in the Finding Aid caught my eye: Tinker and Tanker Out West. I didn't recognize the title. Do you?

I did some poking around on the Internet and found a blog post I may return to later. Some of its content is rather intriguing. For now, let's stick with Scarry's book. The author of the post, Kris Saknussemm, owns a copy of the book and loaded this page to his post:

From what that page indicates, Tinker and Tanker arrive at an Indian village where they meet Indians (buffaloes). They're a papoose and a squaw. Are they out west at that point in the story? Why are they dressing up that way?

Those two words originate with Native peoples of the northeast (squaw has been so badly used that it is now widely seen as a slur). I can't recall Scarry using them in other books, but seeing them here dovetails with his stereotypical images of Native people. I'm thinking I'll put that image on my Foul Among the Good page. It is one of the few times that I've seen a character dress up as a female.

Now--off to see if I can find a copy of the book. It was published in 1961 by Doubleday. According to WorldCat, it is in 139 libraries. Yikes!

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