Saturday, December 29, 2018

Not recommended: Pocahontas (a pocket bio)

According it its website, Macmillan's "Pocket Bios" are "pocket-size picture book biographies" that are "full of personality" and that introduce readers to people of the past and present using "simple storytelling and cheerful illustrations."

Given the oversized head, seems they're trying to appeal to consumers who are buying those other series with oversized-headed people on the covers. Ugh!

A quick look at the bios they have planned for this "Pocket Bios" series tells me they think they've hit on something that will line their pockets (yeah, I'm being a bit snarky).

They plan to release Pocahontas in March of 2019. Over on Edelweiss, I found some interior pages. Take a look at how they depicted John Smith's "she saved my life" moment:

Tied to a tree?! Hmm...

Did she, in fact, save his life? That's not clear. Some say his life was never in danger, and that what happened was a ceremony. None of the accounts I've seen say that he was tied to a tree. What is the source for this, I wonder? The name associated with the book, sometimes as author but usually as illustrator, is Al Berenger.

Macmillan: have you no shame? Well--that's not a good question, is it. For publishers--especially the Big 5--bottom line means they'll publish crap like this because it will sell.

Don't waste your money, librarians!

This book is definitely not recommended.


Allyson B. said...

Thanks for this. I hope people don't buy it! What books do you recommend about Pocahontas for elementary school? I don't want to leave her story out of the biography section so I'd love suggestions.

Erika said...

I would also be curious about books that get it right, if there are any. There's a Pocahontas by Joseph Bruchac, but it looks like historical fiction, rather than nonfiction. Otherwise a quick search of this blog and Amazon turns up mostly drek that takes John Smith's own narrative as fact. But really, I'm not sure how one would tell the true story in a way that is suitable for children anyway. It's a story of kidnapping, rape, marriage under duress if not literally at the point of a gun, the use of Pocahontas as "proof" to English capitalists that the colonists weren't committing atrocities, and murder.