I’ve not had a physical copy of the book in my hands. But I agree with the analysis and portrayals of the book as depicting an oddly dewy-eyed representation of slavery, akin to those who think that slaves should have been at the very least “thankful” for jobs and roofs over their heads.
Since public outcry, which was swift and condemning of Scholastic and the author/illustrator, the book has been pulled from publication.
I agree with the decision. Of all the books out there, published every day, this book doesn’t really need to be published. Nevertheless, as an educator, I always want to err on the side of keeping books available. Are these not the same tactics that bigots and homophobes use to ban books? Or is it different? Is it different to be offended by an inaccurate portrayal of slavery than it is to be religiously conservative and offended by what is perceived as promotion of the “homosexual lifestyle?”
Pulling the book, although ultimately necessary, is the easy way out, no? I mean, Scholastic already most likely lost money on it. But couldn’t it stand to lose more if it was made available, still, and remained on shelves without being purchased? Or, remained on the shelves and included a publisher’s supplement that both acknowledged critique of the book and teaching suggestions for examining its mistakes?
For those advocating its swift pull from publication, perhaps it was the fear that this book could end up in the wrong hands, of someone very ignorant who wanted to promote these nonsense portrayals of slavery to a new generation of students.
That might ultimately support a swift pull of the book from shelves. But again, I have mixed feelings about outright removal of books. But the more I think about it, there really wasn’t anything Scholastic could or should have done differently. This book wasn’t released by some white nationalist publisher. This was freaking Scholastic. For instance, our school just wrapped up a Scholastic book fair. Their tentacles are all through schools. And it’s our job as educators to protect the innocent from garbage.
So, it makes me wonder how this book made it through all of the various publishing screens. I’m sure Scholastic gets all kinds of submissions, perhaps thousands of them. Probably 99.9% of them are rejected. But this one made it through.
When your media specialist or librarian sets up a book fair, there is an element of trust that the materials have been vetted, even though I’ve wondered about some of the wares offered at these fairs myself. Any kid or teacher could pick this book up without thinking, assuming that it had been screened or evaluated as safe and true, even though every major publisher makes these kinds of mistakes. But not everyone is an educated consumer of these materials.
The decision to pull the book was the right one. The only real and good choice possible.