Spork coverSpork

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!

mom and dad are fork and spoon

fork plus spoon equals spork

spork stood out

reflection in toaster

spork stuck out


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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. 🙁

    1. Rosenhan famously showed that, in the mental health field at least, professionals are notoriously susceptible to doing that. I fear it may never end.

  4. 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…

    1. 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.

    1. 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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