Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Debbie--have you seen Jean Craighead George's THE TALKING EARTH?

A librarian wrote to ask me about Jean Craighead George's The Talking Earth. Published in 1983 by HarperCollins, it is available in Spanish and Catalan. It is available as an audiobook, too. Most people who work in children's literature know that George's Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1972. Those of you who pay attention to depictions of Native people know that there is a lot wrong with Julie of the Wolves. 

I'll get a copy of The Talking Earth at the library. From what I see online, I anticipate there will be many problems with it, too. Elders who cross their arms when they speak to kids? Elders who sit cross legged on the ground? Not ok.

In the opening pages, the main character sees her grandfather's medicine bundle. I doubt that a Seminole writer would have that whole section in there. There are some things that are not shared with the public...

And the names! The main character is Billy Wind. Her sister is Mary Wind. Her father is Iron Wind. Her mother is Whispering Wind. Her grandfather is Charlie Wind.

There's some parts that display an outsider's writing, like when Billy and Mary walk to the dugout (p. 10):
It was tied beside the airboat, a flat boat with a motorized fan that "blew" passengers across the saw grass in the watery prairie the Indians called the pa-hay-okee.
Those are supposed to be Billy's thoughts but that sounds more like George herself, an outsider. Honestly, I don't want to read this book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't read 'The Talking Earth', but it reminded me of Julie of the Wolves... as a very young child, it was one of the books that was read to us at school, and I remember loving all the parts with the wolves themselves. As an adult, I thought it might be fun to reread it, and oh... I was so disappointed. I couldn't get through a re-read, so much was wrong that I hadn't remembered (and probably hadn't paid attention to at the time)