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Spork

Spork
Maclear
2010

Submitter: As parents of a biracial child, we wanted to like this one. Look! A local author! Look at the adorably dorky little utensil with the ambiguous little spikey-dready hair! But quickly we were howling in horrified laughter.

Daddy—Couldn’t biracial kids be something awesome? How about a float plane?
Mommy—Sporks are goofy. Don’t you get a little disposable spork with your samples at Costco?
Daddy—Sporks come with military rations.
Mommy— In other words, a compromise to save space and money that doesn’t actually do either job very well. Spoons and forks are things the way races aren’t things—easily definable, purposeful things.
Daddy—It is dehumanizing.
Mommy— Yet another story about how being different is ok because maybe ‘normal’ people will find a use for you. Why not just “there are people who are a million shades of blue, and some who are a million shades of red, and our daughter is a beautiful shade of violet”—not some awkward thing that can’t do any function well, but something that in itself is lovely? And the people who say, “What is she?—not blue? Not red? So she’s half blue and half red?” they just look like idiots.
Baby—Bah! Wiggles off my lap and starts throwing books.

Holly: I’m sure the author meant well, but I can see your point, Submitter. I’d like to see a picture book that skipped the negative altogether and just went for an “I’m unique and I’m awesome” angle without any suggestion that there’s something odd or wrong with that.  I’m sure they exist. Youth librarians, enlighten us!

 

More Well-Intentioned Books for Kids:

The Doris Hall of Infamy – The ENTIRE catalog, folks. She means well. I think.

Jennifer Jean, the Cross-Eyed Queen

You are Never Too Young to Think About Going on a Diet

Gayness Explained

Mommy Needs to Get Pretty

 

12 Responses to Spork

  • Not to mention that the concept and the artwork look like a ripoff of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s picture book “Spoon.”

  • And to think that I get manuscripts returned to me by publishers who say, “We don’t do stories about inanimate objects.” Hmm. Maybe I’ll send them a RHYMING text about inanimate objects.

  • Hey Submitter, I think you have a great idea for your own children’s book about being biracial — I love the analogy with the colors! That would be an awesome library book!

  • I understand what it’s like to be dehumanized and feel like you’re not worth anything if you don’t serve some kind of purpose in society. Not because of my race, but because of my so-called disability. People ignoring positive things about me like my creativity or what makes me an interesting person and only seeing me as someone with a “disease” that’s worse than cancer that must desperately cured. 🙁

  • “Marisol McDonald doesn’t match” is definitely way better

  • I actually like the idea; it is clever, though the submitter’s idea about color(s) is actually closer.

  • I’m biracial (and was adopted and raised by white parents, much like a hotly-discussed sports figure in recent news) and I have to applaud the effort. The author sums up the “neither and both” aspect of it pretty well. I’m actually glad books like this exist and that it’s becoming a bit more “normal”. I’m in my early thirties and sometimes things got a little rough…

    • I’m also biracial and have to agree. That last spread with Spork looking at their reflection hit me hard– I went through that exact same sort of thing when I was a kid. This seems like a book that would be very relatable to its intended audience, though hopefully the whole thing isn’t that depressing.

  • Has anyone read this one? https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B015MQA2KO/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 I’m not always a big celebrity book person, but I like the idea of it.

    There is a really cute book out there about a bunny adopted by horses. Made me giggle and go aww.

    • I have read this, and sold it, too, in my guise as bookseller at Barnes and Noble. (Aside: the store is just a couple of miles from the college Diggs attended, which may explain why we carry it, but more to the point people buy it, which is why we STILL have it.) We don’t carry a lot of books in which mixed race kids are pointed out as such in our store, and don’t get requests for them, but mostly what I see in the picture books are more and more illustrations with kids and parents of every hue, just living their lives.
      I definitely see Submitter’s point about the item spork presenting unfortunate cultural baggage that can intrude on the story’s greater message.

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