Topic A: The book cover that lies
Justine Larbaleister's upcoming release, Liar, is a psychological thriller set in New York City, told from the point of view of a compulsive liar. Larbaleister, the anglo-Australian author of How to Ditch Your Fairy and the Madness or Magic series, says that she makes it a point to feature non-white protagonists. The narrator of Liar, for example, "is black with nappy hair which she wears natural and short." Here's the U.S. cover:
Publisher's Weekly addresses the mismatch between the character description and the cover art. So does Larbaleister herself. It's also well worth reading E. Lockhart's thoughts on the topic (she's the author of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, among others) .
Two choices, if you choose this topic.
1) Use this week's Roll Call to post about this controversy. If you've already posted about it, please link to your post here.
2) Kathy from The Brain Lair inspired me when she Tweeted that she might have her students do this: Design your own cover for Liar.
Hey, you never know--the paperback may come out with a redesign!
Have fun with this. If there's another cover that grates at you for similar reasons, feel free to do your redesign on it. At right is the Australian version for inspiration.
Topic B: What We Ask of Boys
Some of us live in fairly homogenous communities, and some kids aren't exposed to a lot of diversity in their day-to-day lives. (All the more reason to include it in the books they read! But I digress). The one kind of diversity that nearly everyone is exposed to on a daily basis, and often within their own families, is gender diversity.
Librarian Diantha McBride wrote an open letter to publishers in School Library Journal, detailing several things she'd like to see changed in children's books. The most controversial statement she made was this:
I need more books for boys—as do most librarians who work with young people. I've noticed that lots of books with female characters aren't really about being female. In fact, in many cases, the main characters could just as easily have been males—and that would make my job a lot easier.Of the many reactions to this throughout the blogosphere, Renay's sarcastic rant stood out for me:
"Why yes! Girls should have to read about boys because you know, they’re used to it, but boys shouldn’t have to pick up a book with a female narrator, because they might get cooties. . . . Boys need books with male narrators because they can’t see themselves in a female perspective, because they’ve been trained not to by a society that is hostile to women and girls. The answer is not to cater to this hostility, it is to come up with creative ways to make the books appealing."Meanwhile, Mr. Chompchomp of Guys Lit Wire issued an apology of his own, for the fact that his recommendations for books for boys tend to bypass books with female leads, regardless of whether the premise/writing/style might have boy appeal. He remedies this with a list of books with female protagonists and boy appeal which I'll certainly be making use of for my boys.
Three choices, for this topic:
1. Talk about a book (or offer a list of books) that you think has appeal to both genders. Or, books with a female lead that would appeal to guys, or vice versa. It doesn't have to be a kids' book--choose whatever genre you'd like.
2. For authors: talk about gender in your writing--For example, what's your experience been with crossing over to the other side? Do you shy away from it? What do you think of the suggestion of switching a protagonist's gender for the sake of sales/boy appeal/gender equity?
3. Take a book that you love and change the protagonist's gender. How does this change the book's meaning? Would it hold the same place in your heart if the males were female and vice versa?
Post your link or links in the Mr. Linky below.
The C.O.R.A. Diversity Roll Call is a biweekly meme hosted by myself and Susan at Color Online. All are welcome! Join us once, twice, or every time--all we ask is that you link back to the original post, and be open to conversation with other participants.