Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Robot lifting skirt of Black child will not appear in future printings of THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF SPACE

Back in December of 2017, a mother saw The Ultimate Book of Space and bought it as a Christmas gift for her daughter. When she was home she looked through it and noticed this image on the dedication page:

Why, she asked (on social media), is that robot lifting the little girl's dress? She noted that the girl is Black and she correctly characterized the image as one that illustrates sexual harassment. Others began to talk about the image, too. One is the illustrator, who said that the robot is being driven by the girl's sibling, shown on the facing page. He characterized it as kids of all ethnicities playing peacefully together, but others rebutted him. It doesn't matter who is driving the robot. Its actions are inappropriate.

On January 5, I learned about the illustration. The Ultimate Book of Space is by Anne-Sophie Baumann, illustrated by Olivier Latyk, and translated by Robb Booker. It was published in 2016 by Twirl Books, an imprint of Chronicle Books.

I posted the image on Twitter and tagged Chronicle Books. Today (January 9), Chronicle responded, saying
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We appreciate your concern and we agree. We have contacted Twirl, the publisher of this series, and this image will be removed from all future reprints. You can email twirl@chroniclebooks.com to receive a sticker with replacement art.
Here's a screen capture of the tweet:

The mother (who works in technology), made some powerful observations. In particular she noted that the little girl was engaged in a construction project. Her work on this project is being interrupted by that robot...

One news story after another, she noted, talks about women being interrupted, at work, by men who think such actions are fine. 

What message, she asked, does that image send?

I'm glad Chronicle made the decision to remove the illustration. With it, Chronicle acknowledges the problem with the image, and their respect for parents--like this mom--who spoke up for her daughter and the images children see in their books.

I'm grateful to this mom for speaking up and encourage others to do so, too!

1 comment:

Tricia said...

Thank you for sharing this story. I'm going to share your post and this example with my students. It's such a simple thing, but we need to look more critically at images and what they represent.