|Age 8-10||notify me|
I think The Turn of the Century Book is racist
We just finished reading Turn of the Century by Ellen Jackson and were enjoying it quite a bit when we came to the year 2000 with the boy, John Stevenson. John has a friend, named Mark, who is the only person of color in the entire book, which my daughter noticed early on, but I figured it was okay, since it was about European history, for the most part. Anyway, "John" talks about Mark having a treehouse and then says, "Mark taped a picture of a mountain gorilla on the wall. He says he's going to call his tree house the Monkey House. Oh brother!" This statement is out of the blue, does not enhance the story, is not related to the time period. I checked online and no one else has complained about this that I could find, but I do not see how this could be interpreted as anything other than a racist dogwhistle.
Very Interesting! I never found it racist before - but I can see what you're saying. Looks like the book was written in 1998 and the author would have done the writing first and may not have collaborated w/the illustrator. From how I read it, the Caucasian kid who is narrating is doing a stream of consciousness like they do in the other eras - banana ice cream, gorilla (eats banana), monkey house (banana, gorilla, etc). I doubt the author intended any sort of racial slur - esp bc it seems like she purposely kept race out of it - no mention of slavery in the 1800's or the history of fighting with the Moors, for example. As for the illustrator? Who knows the motivation, maybe political correctness wasn't as big a deal back in 1998 and she didn't have to be as careful with what she was drawing.