Monday, December 02, 2019


Snowy Farm by Calvin Shaw, with illustrations by Oamul Lu, was published by Simon and Schuster on November 5, 2019. Before it was Snowy Farm, it was Igloo Farm and scheduled to be published in October of 2019. If you do an Internet search of Igloo Farm, you will be taken to pages about Snowy Farm.

I sure would like to know what led to the changes in the title, words, and illustrations for this book. Back in October, I saw the F&Gs for both. (F&G means the pages of a book, folded and gathered but not yet bound. See details about F&Gs at Editorial Anonymous.) On the cover, we see these changes:
  • The title word Igloo was replaced with Snowy
  • The illustration of an igloo was replaced with a horse
  • The skin color of the people was changed 
  • Two chickens were inserted on the Snowy Farm cover
  • The snowman's scarf was changed from green to orange 

Here's the front cover inside flap.

On the left is Igloo Farm. On the right is Snowy Farm. The words are identical.

They read, in part "Away on a farm in a snowy white home, a family lives life in a way of their own..."

The skin color (as we saw on the cover) of the people is different. In the original book, the man held a spear and his parka has what appears to be fringe at its hem.

Here's the first page of both copies:

The words in the original are:
There's an igloo windmill on an igloo farm, with an igloo house and an igloo barn.
The words in the revised book are:
There's a snowy white windmill on a snowy white farm, with a frosty old house and a snow-covered barn. 
In the original, "igloo house" has been replaced by "house" (the word 'igloo' was deleted) and in the illustration, the domed structure made of ice blocks has been replaced by a pitched roof structure with walls and two windows. The structure representing a barn remains the same in both copies.

In the original, the tree by the igloo is blue; in the revision, that blue color is used for the window of the house and the tree is the same color as the others. Other color changes are made throughout the book. In the original, the sky is gray-purple; in the revised one, the sky is a gray-blue. And, as shown on the cover and the cover flaps, the family's skin tone was changed. The illustrator, Oamul Lu, uses a computer to create his art. A wild guess: changing the skin tone was easily done with a series of keyboard clicks or commands.

Update on Dec 3, 2019 at 5:45 AM:
I continue to look around for information. I did an image search using "igloo windmill" and found that a Romanian artist, Vali Petridean, has the exact same words on some art that he did. Who wrote those words? Petridean? Or, Shaw? 

When I put the URL for Petridean's art into the Internet Archive page, I see that he loaded that image to his website on July 1, 2015. That was a few years before the first images from Igloo Farm began to appear.

Here's Petridean's text/illustration, juxtaposed with Shaw/Lu's (note on December 4 2019--I wrote to Petridean to ask about the illustration on his page. He said it is Shaw's poem):

----end update on Dec 3---

I don't think I can legally share all the photos I took because of copyright laws, so will now switch to descriptions.

Glance back up at the cover. The horse and the chicken shown on the cover of Snowy Farm are in the interior pages of Igloo Farm. In both versions, the farm animals (horse, chickens, goat) wear earmuffs. In both, the man is holding ice carrots, which is what the animals are fed. Later, the man is driving a tractor sled and pulling two boxes of snow apples, which is what he eats when he works the fields.

On one page we are inside the igloo/house where real food is being cooked (by "the wife" or "the mom"). In Igloo Farm, the words are:
The wife of the farmer is cooking inside, with cinnamon spices and eggs to be fried.
In Snowy Farm the words are:
The mom of the family is cooking a dish with savory spices and seasonal fish.
On a subsequent page, the kids come inside to eat. The table in Igloo Farm is white, like if it is made from snow or ice. The table in Snowy Farm is made of lumber. After supper the family sits around an open flame fire, inside. To the left of them is a teapot. In Igloo Farm, the teapot is on a counter made of ice blocks. In Snowy Farm, it is a low table with wooden legs.

When night falls they go to bed. Both families sleep on the floor, covered in brown blankets that seem to have fur on them. The family in Igloo Farm has pillows with a decorative cover (see below); the family in Snowy Farm has plain pillows.

At the end of Igloo Farm is an Author's Note where Shaw tells us that he lived in upstate New York as a child. He and his brother played in the snow, went sledding, built snowmen, and tried to build igloos. Igloo Farm is what he believes living in an igloo would be like. He also writes:
For thousands of years, a group of people known as Inuits have relied on igloos for shelter in the icy cold regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska.
He says a few additional things about the Arctic, igloos and Inuits. In his "For Further Reading" list are four books about living in the Arctic, or about igloos.

At the end of Snowy Farm is a completely different Author's Note. No mention at all of Inuits, or igloos or the Arctic (at the North Pole). In fact, he writes about the Antarctic (at the South Pole). He says:
The people who travel to live in Antarctica fall into two main groups, those who live and work on scientific research stations or bases, and tourists. No one lives in Antarctica indefinitely in the way that people do in the rest of the world. Antarctica has no commercial industries, no towns or cities, no permanent residents. 
Curious about Antarctica, I did an Internet search using "who lives in Antarctica" and was--quite frankly--stunned to read those same words on the Cool Antarctica website (that website was the second hit in my search results). In the image below, the screen capture on top is from the website and the one below is my photograph of the Author's Note in Snowy Farm (Note: you see the word "Edited" after the file name? It is there because I used the Contrast option in the "Adjust Color" tool in my laptop's "Preview" app to make the words more legible.):

That plagiarism is stunning.

This book's journey, from start to finish, is striking.

The changes to the book title, the words and illustrations, throughout, are remarkable.

Why did nobody at Simon and Schuster catch the problems with igloo before the book was printed into F&G's?

Who spoke up and said 'hey, we need to revise this book..."

How did those conversations go, in the editorial offices? What did someone say, exactly? And, what did they say to the author and illustrator? Or--was it the author or illustrator who got in touch with the editors and said changes were necessary?

I doubt we'll have answers to any of those questions but I'll tag Simon and Schuster and see if there's any response. If you hear anything, let us know!

Update, 4:34 PM on December 3, 2019

As far as I'm able to determine, there are no professional reviews of Snowy Farm. And yet, when I look in WorldCat, I see that several libraries have copies of the book. That's another puzzle. I thought that libraries purchase books based on 2 or more positive reviews in a review journal. I'm looking into that lack of reviews and will be back with an update when I have some info to share.

Update, 12:30 PM on December 5, 2019

Earlier today, an anonymous person submitted a comment that consists of a link to a discussion on Reddit that appears to be about this post--specifically, the plagiarized author's note. The original poster ("Mister_B_Lank") at Reddit is seeking legal advice on Reddit. 18 hours ago (which would be December 4 in late afternoon), they wrote:
My publisher asked me write an “Author’s Note” that provides information as to what my story is about at the end of the book. I said sure, and submitted it to them. However, when I got the book, I saw that the Author’s Note was drastically changed.
I recently found out that they plagiarized some of the Author’s Note from a website. People online are noticing the plagiarism and are assuming it’s me who wrote the Author’s Note.
Not too sure how to handle this. Any help mucho appreciated. For the record I’m in the U.S.
Here's a screen capture of the post:

In the conversation that took place, the OP ("OP" is shorthand for "original poster") said that the publisher admitted to rewriting what he submitted:

I clicked on the OP's name ("Mister_B_Lank") and saw that, on November 15, he had posted that his book had come out but there wasn't much marketing of it. Another person asked for the book title but the OP did not want to disclose it. He did say this:
Well, I don’t want to disclose too much. But I will say this: It’s a kid’s book. We had to change the title, the characters, and the setting because I am a “non-native” who wrote about another culture. Not disparagingly, but there is a movement right now called “Own Voices” that is derailing the publication of YA and kid’s books written by non-natives (I’m white) . Because of this, I am worried the publisher is barely marketing the book due to some kind of backlash. 
Here's that screen cap:

Another person asked how the OP felt about the changes. The OP replied:
Honestly, it drove me kind of crazy through the publishing process that the book was being altered so heavily. When I finally held the book in my hands for the first time, I didn’t have that much of an emotional response. I’ve become a bit more disgruntled after the release of the book w the lack of marketing, and im currently having a very hard time getting my publisher and agent to respond to my emails about the release
And here's that screen cap:


To try to get my own thoughts in order, I'm constructing a timeline. Somewhere between July 16 2018 and September 7, 2019, somebody said 'stop' on the Inuit text and illustrations. The skin tone of the Inuit characters being lightened is the opposite of what we saw take place in publishing in past decades. To make books more inclusive, artists used a darker skin color but didn't change any other features. As noted above in the Author Note for Igloo Farm, Shaw (author) created the book out of his imagination of what life in an igloo would be like. But the book was radically altered. Here's the timeline.

2015 -- Romanian artist named Vali Petridean published an image he created for Shaw (author of Igloo Farm/Snowy Farm). It has the first few lines of Shaw's book on it.

April 10, 2017 -- Publisher's Weekly's Rights Report for April 10, 2017 says that Paula Wiseman at Simon and Schuster bought Igloo Farm by Calvin Shaw, and that Kirsten Hall of Catbird Productions negotiated the deal for world rights.

July 16, 2018 -- Librarian tweeted about Igloo Farm after seeing image of cover on "Reading With Mr. Teut" blog.

September 7, 2019 -- I saw and took photos of the F&G's for both, Igloo Farm and Snowy Farm. 

November 15, 2019 -- Calvin Shaw, the author, posted a question about book marketing, to Reddit. He said his publisher was barely marketing his book, and worried it was because they feared backlash because the original book had Native content and he is White. He referenced Own Voices, saying it is derailing books written by non-Natives. [Note: I learned of Shaw's post to Reddit on Dec 5, when an AICL reader submitted a comment with link to Shaw's December 4 post to Reddit.]

December 2, 2019 -- I published "Igloo Farm becomes Snowy Farm" here, on AICL.

December 4, 2019 -- At Reddit, Calvin Shaw, author of Igloo Farm/Snowy Farm posted his concerns about his publisher's revisions to his Author's Note. The plagiarism, he said, was done by the publisher, not by him.

December 5, 2019 -- Shaw deleted the November 15 post at Reddit, about marketing of the book. The conversation that ensued (where he referenced Own Voices) is still available.


Anonymous said...

Sam Jonson said...

For those who don't know (apparently including Calvin Shaw himself), contrary to, say, Dan Piraro's Bizarro cartoons, most Inuit today DON'T live in igloos. In fact, the recently-created TV show Molly of Denali was—is—careful to avoid showing its Alaska Native characters living in igloos.
So no, Shaw, I don't think Own Voices is exactly derailing non-Amerindian authors' books, it's just halting the spread of most of the newer books that have Racist Stereotypes. But anyway, that old saying comes to mind: "To the privileged, equality feels like oppression."

Beverly Slapin said...

Exactly, Sam. Igloos are hunting lodges. People don't live in them, except when they're hunting. Readers might want to see the excellent photo-essay for children (and everyone else), BUILDING AN IGLOO by Ulli Steltzer (Scholastic, 1999). And there are no such things as "igloo farms" or "igloo windmills" (!) either. Both books that Calvin Shaw wrote--IGLOO FARM and SNOWY FARM-- are simplistic rhymes that have nothing real or teachable.

In the Arctic and Antarctic, people rely on hunting and fishing for sustenance. There's an excellent series of books for young readers called THE LAND IS OUR STORYBOOK (Fifth House). It's a beautiful collaboration between by elders and young people who live and thrive in the Arctic, and a teacher and photographer from Yellowknife. Each of the nine books (so far) is bilingual and honestly, respectfully and beautifully put together.