I know – it’s the day after the 2020 Presidential election, and I promised a post about it, but nothing much has happened, other than the Dems and the MSM calling certain states for Biden, and steadfastly refusing to call obvious GOP victories for Trump, and we’re pretty much at a stalemate right now.
Something else caught my eye – a deaf children’s author from Canada has been, for the past month, pleading with people to not buy his book, The Most Awesome Character in the World. His reasoning is that one of the illustrations is raaaaaaacist. His publisher initially disagreed, and went ahead with publication, but now they seem to have at least agreed to refrain from promoting the book.
H/T to Clownfish TV for bringing this to my attention. I have embedded their video below:
At first I just laughed. Things are so absurd right now, it’s no surprise that an author would “self-cancel” but then I read a couple of other articles about it, and it dawned on me: this deaf guy is accusing his illustrator, who is a different person, of being racist. Nobody has sought any sort of statement or clarification from the illustrator. They just call her a racist.
So the article seen in the Clownfish TV video is from Reclaim the Net, which is a great site:
According to them, the publisher is an American woman of Asian descent, and you can even see a photo of her. The author’s name is Adam Pottle and he is from Canada. The illustrator’s name is Ana Sanfelippo, and she is from Argentina (and born the same year I was, lol). Click here to visit her website and check out her illustrations. I like them – they have a cute, colorful and vintage vibe, and she’s a cat person like me.
I managed to find a low-res version of the offending image at this site, but it looks like they’ve scrubbed it, although the page, or post, is still there. It might be my ad blockers, who knows.
Anyway, The Globe and Mail has an article about the affair, and that prompted me to make this post.
A Canadian author has taken the unusual step of publicly asking people not to buy his new book – and asking bookstores not to stock it. Adam Pottle’s first picture book, The Most Awesome Character in the World, features a deaf protagonist, Philomena, who has an excellent imagination and a preference for signing over using her hearing aids.
The language used in reference to the illustrations is incendiary and full of self-righteous rage:
Gogia at Another Story, an independent bookstore that focuses on themes of social justice and diversity, said the situation incensed her. “I was so furious that here’s an author, a deaf author, who’s written his first children’s book, who’s telling people not to buy his book. I was so furious for him and so saddened for him,” said Gogia, the store’s events co-ordinator.
Gogia wrote an open letter to the publisher in support of Pottle’s request and asked other independent bookstores to follow their lead.
“We urge you to honour Adam’s request to have the book recalled and pulped, and that he be given full approval prior to release. He should also receive a written apology. No author should have to go on social media to ask people to NOT purchase their book,” wrote Gogia in the open letter.
On Tuesday, McNally Robinson announced on Twitter that it would not be selling the book in its stores in Saskatoon and Winnipeg. “Truly a shame that [Pottle] is put in this position by the publisher, but good for him for standing up against hatred and ignorance at the cost of his own book.”
I helpfully bolded the bits that pissed me off.
Now here’s the horrifying Nazi-esque image (sarcasm, obviously):
It’s the girl in the top middle of the screen, closer to the right, next to the big sloth with the hat.
I spent five years of my childhood/tween years in Japan. I fail to see how this is a hateful and ignorant illustration. Obviously, there’s wheelchair-bound girls and women all over the world, and I am sure Japan has their share of them. Secondly, Japanese people of all ages do wear kimonos and other traditional Japanese dress from time to time, especially on certain holidays. Older people living outside the cities also may wear kimonos full-time. At least, that’s how it was when I lived there, back in the early 90s.
Reclaim the Net claims that the dress worn by the wheelbound character is a yukata, which is a light kimono worn in the summer. I’ve worn one before, when I was in elementary school. It was sooooo cool. As for the hairstyle, they say that the girl has buns on either side. At first I thought, nah, that’s not a traditional hairstyle, but had to stop myself because, well, I’m a huge Sailor Moon fan and the main character, Usagi (Sailor Moon) wears side buns with ponytails hanging from them. You can read more about the odango hairstyle (odango is a type of Japanese dumpling) at Wikipedia. So is Naoko Takeuchi, the only author I’d ever fangirl over (she is the manga artist and author that created Sailor Moon) racist too, for giving her main character the distinctive style of buns on either side of her head?
I don’t know which Asian country the publisher, Sera Reycraft, can claim ancestry to, but I am sure she’s got a basic understanding of Japanese culture, and that’s probably why she didn’t think this was that big a deal.
I am not Japanese, but I used to freaking live there and I don’t think it’s a big deal either. Of course, this is the only illustration I’ve been able to find so far. I don’t know what the rest of the book looks like and since I have no children, I have no desire to spend $25 for Amazon’s final copy of this book to find out. Yes, as of now, the main issue is that Amazon, out of all book retailers, still sells this Hitler-esque tome. QUELLE HORREUR!!!!
Now this is tricky, because the author did suggest to the publisher that they use a deaf illustrator (why, I don’t know, but whatever…he seems to think his own deafness greatly affects his writing…maybe so, I dunno), but they chose Ms. Sanfelippo instead. He first saw the illustrations in an ARC of the book, of which was supposedly sent to reviewers and librarians first.
I get that it’s his book, his story, and he would like the illustrations to match the story and to be satisfied with them. I totally get that part. Unfortunately, I gather that a great deal of children’s authors don’t get to pick and choose their illustrators unless they’re hugely successful already, or are illustrating their own story.
I also understand why the publisher wouldn’t want to pulp and destroy an entire run of books (priced at $25 no less…for a freaking children’s book) because the author is dissatisfied with one illustration. The publishing industry is already struggling, and we’re in, what, the eighth month of a pandemic that resulted in the screeching halt of almost every major economy on Earth? Yeah, I can see someone being a bit hesitant to throw away an investment that cost thousands of dollars simply because the author is paranoid over one freaking illustration.
If it had been half of them or more that were problematic, I could understand. But only one, out of a forty page book? No.
It is obvious that the author is virtue-signaling to cover his ass. The illustration in question looks like a Japanese girl in the summer, going to a festival or a bath house (as the yukata was originally meant to be a simple robe worn at bath houses, but now people wear them in public, and they’re in different colors and patterns…and are so pretty).
But white leftists can’t help themselves, beating themselves up for simply existing and being offended on our behalf, and by “our” I mean racial minorities…all of us.
I feel very sorry for the illustrator, who is already quite accomplished, and I hope her career survives this.