Diversity in Children’s Book Part ONE

We started class on Thursday, April 20, 2017, with our professor saying that she was proud of our class. For the rest of the class, we did about 20 different books with certain topics. The following are the books and their respective topics as following:

  • “Adrift” for Global Warming,
  • “The Lorax” for Sustainability,
  • “When the sky breaks” for Natural Disasters,
  • “Johnny Tracker and His Adventure” for Agriculture,
  • “13 Reasons Why” for Self-Care,
  • “You’re Old Only Once!” for Old age / Senility,
  • “It’s So Amazing” for Pregnancy,
  • “Tango Makes Three” for Sexuality,
  • “Chocolate Me!” for Racial Diversity,
  • “Malala Yosafza!” for Human Right,
  • “My Name is not Isabella” for Gender Equality,
  • “Separate is Never Equal” for Human Rights,
  • “A Piece of Home” and Family,
  • “The Goodbye Boat” for Death,
  • “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” for Religion and Spirituality,
  • “Poncho Rabbit and the Coyote” for Immigration,
  • “If You Take a Mouse to a Movie” for Holidays,
  • “The Cat and the Hat” and Ethics for Behavior, and
  • “Engineering: The Riveting World of Buildings and Machines” for Science.
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Wizards of Oz and H.Anderson

Our class on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 started with a film presentation by Wynelle Studdard on The Wizards of Oz.

The film presentation started watching a clip from the movie with the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The presenter went through the history of the film, the book that the film was based on, and the author of the book, The Wizard of Oz. The movie is one of the most iconic American films; its success is owned to the writer of the book who created the international resonating American fairy tale. Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer produced the film in 1939 with well-known “soundtrack, stunning visuals, and use of then-new technicolor.” The story is a story of four new-founded friends who goes on a “magical and dangerous” land of Oz to see the Wizard of Oz to ask him to help them with their needs. At the end, all four of the friends receive what they want and defeated the Wicked Witch and found out that the Wizard was a fake. We watched a clip where the Wicked Witch being melted after being sprayed with water.

After the presentation, Soudabeh talked about the Muslim Ban and about her story of never meeting anyone who said “go back to your country” which is good to hear. Americans should not go against immigrants or refugees who wants to come into our country as we are all immigrants whether in the past or now.

We finished the last version of Snow White by Anne Sexton that we did not get to talk about in the last class (1/26/2017). This story is the closest story to the Disney version as they both contain seven dwarfs, mirror that tells the truth, a jealous stepmother (Queen), and a hunter who releases Snow White without killing her. We discussed about how Snow White is pure as she is a virgin and about the mirror that tells the truth to the jealous stepmother who should have not been jealous and doesn’t trust the mirror at all. Soudabeh encouraged us to talk about the hunter’s actions and if the hunter is good or not. The hunter is bad because he agreed to do so and leave her alone in the wildwood alone, but he is also good as he lied to the queen (Snow White’s stepmother) by giving a boar’s heart to her instead of Snow White’s heart. We also discussed that the seven dwarfs told Snow White not to open the door and she failed to listen twice as she was suffocating by tight lacing around her bodice and poisoned by a poison comb or a curved eight-inch scorpion. We called her dumb and even the text agreed by calling her “a dumb bunny.” We see that the word “seven” is being repeated many times; this might be because seven is a special number where God rested on the seventh day. The story ends with Snow White walking up from her poisoned sleep and becoming the prince’s bride and with the wicked queen dying at the end after being invited to the wedding feast.

Next, Soudabeh starts lecture about children and Hans Anderson. Children can understand characters if they had similar issue before. For example, In the story, The Little Match Girl, a child can easily understand her not wanting go back home if they too have the same issue. Emotional anguish is more important than physical distress as emotional anguish can be long lasted. Sympathy is to feel another’s anguish and to identify with the character.

Finally, we discussed about the four Hans Anderson stories: Ugly Duckling, Emperor’s New Clothes, Princess and the Pea, and The Little Match Girl.

The first story, Ugly Duckling, gives a story about a “duckling” who has a horrible young life as everyone around him is calling him ugly and chased out of his home by everyone around him and even his own “family.” The theme is to search yourself as yourself without having to be like others. The “duckling” believed that he is a duck even though he is not, which in the end he discovered that he really a swan, young and handsome when he looked down at the water.

The second story, Emperor’s New Clothes, gives a story about a foolish Emperor who believed two scammers that that they can make “beautiful” clothes that people can’t see if they don’t deserve their office position or were dull. In the end, all of the adults, whether people near or far from the emperor, believed that he is wearing “beautiful” clothes, but the one innocent child proclaimed that the emperor was not wearing any clothes. The theme is that children are innocent and honest and that pride and vain can cause you to have embarrassing results.

The third story, Princess and the Pea, is about a prince who is looking a real princess. One a terrible stormy night, a “princess” arrived and slept at their place where she slept on twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds that both are on top of a single significant pea. She complained about not able to sleep on the sleep and having bruises, and then was proclaimed to be a real princess as only a real princess has “delicate skin.” She married the prince. This version about a princess marrying a prince mocks past stories because she somehow knows that a pea is underneath layers of mattresses and beds.

The final story, The Little Match Girl, is about a girl who was selling matches to make money for her “family” in the cold shivering. She could not go back home as she would be beaten up by her “father.” She thought about her dead Grannie, who was the “only one kind to her.” In the end, she died because she was frozen to death, yet she was happy to go to heaven with her Grannie as we see her point of view of what happened. If we did not see what she saw, we would not be as sad.