Children's Books

CAUCASIAN AMERICANS; BASIC SKILLS WORKBOOK; Beverly Slapin, Illustrated by Annie Esposito; Oyate, 2702 Mathews St. Berkeley, CA 94702; 510-848-6700. 1990, 1994, 46 pp. glossary, list of readings, line drawing illustrations, worksheets. paprback oversize $12.95

This workbook is a parody -- very funny -- of bloopers and offensive passages from popular children's lit by white people about Indians. It's useful for sensitivity and cultural training and education. Teenage Indian kids will like it. Indian teachers at mostly-white schools will chuckle softly. According to a reliable source, it's recently been banned from libraries, classrooms, bookshelves of a Milwaukee Indian Community school when a white principal recently took over, there. The source flip-flops between thinking this is hiularious and wanting to get some kind of civil liberties anti-censorship` action going on it. I dunno if the banning was because sandwiched right in -- part of -- the parodies are some straight-up realities such as (after a little essay about Caucasian food production), a set of questions, ending with "5. Why were farmworkers often poor and hungry?" Could it be because of the traditional art -- the page borders of classic dollarsigns, or perhaps the hilarious anthro-bio section on "Caucasian American Leaders"? One actually suspcts Nosensayewma (a common cultural failing of the Bureaucratic Tribe) as the basic cause.

This workbook is a very useful tool for workshops and education classes (which is what is was written for). Beverly, who writes from the assumed perspective of "A teacher whose love of white culture has led her to intensive Caucasian studies, which she eagerly shares with her young students" has taken from all-too-real existing books just about every passage, section, worksheet activity, acknowledgements and puff-reviews -- and the bloopers are transmitted in the ditzy way of untalented writers of the type she's parodying -- from existing, popular (often prizewinning, prestigious) children's books about Indians. How does or might it feel in today's "multicultural approach to education" (if it were universal, not a one-shot joke) to have your entire culture continually trashed, made to look both ridiculous and sinister in a relentless idiotic babytalk loaded with a near-totality of errors and misunderstandings? The real purpose of this workbook -- one I think it can in fact serve the reflective even without a formal workshop -- is to help people understand the kind of pervasive cultural domination and inculcation of perverse views that goes on in children's lit about Indians. Highly recommended, including for that principal if she's for real. Schools, colleges, Continuing Ed and organizations can contact Oyate to have workshops conducted, too. Reviewed by Paula Giese

10 LITTLE WHITEPEOPLE, Beverly Slapin illustrated by Annie Esposito, Oyate, 2702 Mathews Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, 510-848-6700, FAX 510-848-4815; 1995, 16 pages, black and white illustrations, $5.

This is a parody of a children's counting book (which is derived from a children's rhyme-song). "Ten little whitepeople, standing in a line. One lost his ATM card, then there were nine....6 little whitepeople struggling to arrive, the corporation downsized, then there were five." I really want to see some of the productions of this team for slightly older children, such as Growing Up Caucasian and I Live in a Condo, and that classic Ishibashi Award winner, What's Up, Little White Girl?. Teachers and parents of pre-schoolers will look forward eagerly to this talented multicultural team's current project, The Whitepeople Pop-up Book.

Illustrator Esposito collects Caucasian art and artifacts, including rugs, blankets, CD's, Tupperware, and old broken TV sets, which she restores. "I recycle them from dumps, never from burial sites," she says gravely. Her sensitive and dramatic illustrations of Caucasian life and culture have won wide acclaim. including recognition by the Museum of the American Caucasian and the Association of Whitepeople Hobbyists. Esposito particularly liked working on 10 Little Whitepeople because of the beautiful patterns and rich Caucasian sources it incorporated.

We await with high anticipation a groundbreaking venture by this dedicated team of scholars, artists, storytellers and researchers which is rumored to be an annotated collection of Songs, Rituals, Legends and Myths Performed by Used Car Dealers. We understand that some members of the research team have been so well accepted by this little-known secretive society that they have been initiated and adopted, taking part in ritual exchanges of religious tokens ("money") for the fabulous grotesque artifacts ("cars" or Gods) this society assembles in vast parked herds, marked off for worship with ropes of flapping, colorful authentic plastic flags. We can expect major new cultural insights and an aesthetic feast from the forthcoming multi-volume series.

File: ch51

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Native American BOOKS, text and graphics copyright Paula Giese, 1996

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 1996 - 5:44:05 AM