Friday, March 9, 2007

"Imitating Indians" in Sendak's ALLIGATORS ALL AROUND


Shown here is a page from Maurice Sendak's alphabet book, Alligators All Around, reprinted in 1991 by HarperTrophy. These 'gators sport different headdresses. The little fellow must be smoking a "peace pipe" but it looks more like a sax to me. The one with all his sharp teeth showing has a tomahawk. Problems abound with this! Objectifying, dehumanizing. From what I've seen, most alphabet books are staying clear of this practice, but these older volumes are still in wide circulation. There is, for example, a lesson plan on the ReadWriteThink pages (cosponsored by the National Council for Teachers of English and the International Reading Association) that uses this book to teach kids alliteration. I wonder what teachers do when they get to this page? Breeze on through? Or use it as a teachable moment?

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