Friday, January 12, 2018

Debbie--have you seen R IS FOR REBEL by J. Anderson Coats?

A reader wrote to ask if I've seen R Is For Rebel by J. Anderson Coats. It'll be out on February 20 from Atheneum (Simon and Schuster). Here's the description:
Princess Academy meets Megan Whalen Turner in this stunning novel about a girl who won’t let anything tame her spirit—not the government that conquered her people, and definitely not reform school! 
Malley has led the constables on a merry chase across her once-peaceful country. With her parents in prison for their part in a failed resistance movement, the government wants to send her to a national school—but they’ll have to capture her first. 
And capture her they do. Malley is carted off be reformed as a proper subject of the conquering empire, reeducated, and made suitable for domestic service. That’s the government’s plan, anyway. 
But Malley will not go down without a fight. She’s determined to rally her fellow students to form a rebellion of their own. The government can lock these girls up in reform school. Whether it can break them is another matter entirely…

Woah. Lot of phrases in there that make me cringe. Like "tame her." Most people will read that and think someone is trying to stifle a girl's spirit, but when you read the next few words "the government that conquered her people" -- it is clear that we're in a very slippery space.

And Malley leads the constables "on a merry chase across her once-peaceful country"??? Native children being chased by government officials was not merry.

I am highly doubtful that Coats is going to pull this off--at least for any of us who know what the boarding schools were like. If I get a copy, I'll be back with a review.

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 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!