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*** Warning Note: One page contains a pretty awful caricature of 2 African natives ***
As a free public service to spare the unsuspecting reader from being traumatized, I have read this book with a critical and sensitive eye as this is one of the dirty half dozen Seuss books no longer published for their obvious danger to the mental health of the young American mind.
Although, the author is probably just drawing his usual caricatures of various nationalities and most would not object, the one page where the author draws African natives is more than a bit awkward.
My recommendation to the reader is: Don't bother with the book.
My recommendation to the publisher is to edit the offending page.
I have an appreciation for Dr.Seuss and grateful to still be able to check out books that in our understanding culturally speaking are deemed inappropriate. It has created a good opportunity to speak to my children about why it is offensive and how people were treated and viewed in past years and how some still treat people today. There are two issues specifically that really stuck out in this book one to do with Asian characteristics and the other with caricatures of African people’s. Be alert to that and it can be a learning opportunity.
Another excellent tale for kids. Sad it will be included in the book burning if the woke morons have their way.
Folks are doubt "offended" by some of the characters in the book. Of course the "offended" are too ignorant to read the book. If they did, they would see that the depiction of ALL the characters is exaggerated BECAUSE IT'S FOR KIDS! There is no hate. It is a celebration of other cultures as the child imagining his zoo wants to include strange and interesting animals from all over the world. And in his imaginary world he is working WITH the people in the cultures depicted.
And, woke idiots, IT'S A KIDS BOOK!
I encourage everyone to read it. And read it to their child. It's a harmless exploration of the imagination which is so important for kids.
Okay, here goes.
I saw the pages--that I noticed there are only two--in which the characters could conceivably be denounced as "racist." And my reaction was.... so what?
I was about 14 pages in and wondering what all the fuss was about when I spotted the first "problem"; about 35 pages in when I saw the next.
But my thought was this: The characters, Black and Asian, appear incidentally here to signify a young boy's fancifully imaginative ideas about the creatures and peoples of geographic locations in parts of the world he's clearly never seen or experienced.
And if those images are presented as reductive caricatures--and frankly they are, particularly the African people--it might be helpful to keep in mind that "If I Ran The Zoo" is, after all, a typically Seussian celebration of the wild, the offbeat and the playfully bizarre. It was written by a white man born in 1904, who may (or may not) have had some issues with people who don't look like him, speak like him, or come from where he comes from--not unlike many if not most of his contemporaries. And "Zoo" was published in the America of 1950, not the most racially sensitive or inclusive time. A little context might be helpful, is what I'm saying.
If it matters at all, I happen to be an African-American public library staffer who grew up loving the whimsical absurdities of the Dr. Seuss books. If there are things to be concerned about them, and other classic works that explore controversial themes or feature controversial characters--Mark Twain, anyone?--the more honest approach would be to keep them in public view, READ THEM (not just take some else's word on what they say and what it means), and talk about them, not lock them away.
Because that smacks of censorship, of some committee somewhere deciding for everyone else what is appropriate or allowed. Rather a poor reflection on this supposed land of the free and home of the brave. And public libraries.
There is only one page which has content which could be argued as racist:
“I’ll hunt in the mountains of Zomba-ma-Tant with helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant.”
The page shows people drawn with slanted eyes. But these people are not even called Asian. They are not said to be from any Asian country. So people who call it racist are assuming that these people drawn in the book are Asian. Many of Seuss’ animals are entirely made up, so why can’t he make up people who have slanted eyes? Isn’t it more racist for people to assume that these fictional slanted eyed people must be Asian because they have slanted eyes?
By the way, I’m Asian, and I’m not offended. People of different races do have different appearances, and that’s a fact. Was Seuss not allowed to draw any Asian characters? If he didn’t, he’d get called racist for not including them!
Another of Seuss’ books has characters called Zeds who all have just one hair upon their heads. So was Seuss hating on bald people?
The purpose of libraries is to provide books so the populace could educate itself. Libraries, by necessity, must also include offensive content. I want to read this book myself and draw my own conclusions about it, which is my right. Shame on you, San Diego, for limiting your citizens' education and right to think for themselves!
Excellent book for a lot of kids and adults! Some of you folks are so riddled with White Guilt you're on the HUNT for anything that could be even remotely construed as "racist". You then point it out as quickly as possible like some over achiever student raising your hand in class for attention. If you don't like the book fine don't check it out, but don't ruin it for others that might want to check it out.
What's next cancel Mark Twain and Huckleberry Fin? It's really loaded with "racism"
I do not like the sjw virtue signaling cancel culture here. I do not like it there. I do not like it anywhere.
This book for children has racist content
(slurs and illustrations). Surprised it doesn't have a warning. Better yet, it should be removed.
Whenever I see something that I would have done differently or wonder how something was done, I am reminded of the opening lines to this story. It is very unfortunate that an Asian reference, which I'm sure in 1950 was only meant to convey somewhere exotic among so many fictitious places, is uncomfortably close to a racist description today. I don't condone that, but I'd like to think this might lead to discussion about sensitivity and tolerance instead of censorship. My favourite Seuss story "What Was I Scared Of?" (1961) and several of his other stories do a good job approaching this subject directly. I'm reading a 1st edition Tom Swift novel published in 1910 at the moment because of its prophetic descriptions of electric cars and battery technology but am dismayed by its really cringe-worthy portrayal of hired-hand Eradicate Sampson. Baby and bath water. Thankfully times continue to change.
A classic. A book of lists, imagination gone wild. Good for the under fives.
I'm sorry to see this book is available at the VPL. I recently purchased it at a gift shop at the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Springs, CA when we were there on holidays as a way for my son and I to recall our visit there. I didn't have time to read it prior to purchase but we love other Dr. Seuss books so felt it was a safe bet.
This book has some seriously racist content. Perhaps when it was published in the 1950s it was acceptable but it's not anymore. I had to stop reading it and have a conversation with my son about why and how the book was wrong. To put a positive spin on it, it was a teaching moment. But I was shocked by it. Needless to say, if my son showed up at his school referring to his Asian friends as "slant eyes", there'd be trouble.
Don't read this book with your kids!