Here is the cover for my next book, Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books, forthcoming from Oxford University Press in July 2017. Since it (the cover) is now on some websites (notably Oxford UP & Amazon.com), I thought I’d share it here.
THANKS to Oxford UP’s Lucas Heinrich for his design and editor Sarah Pirovitz for her tolerance of my perfectionism.* And thanks to aesthetically adept friends who shared their thoughts on the cover: Megan Montague Cash, Mark Newgarden, Mervi Pakaste, and Dan Warner. Thanks also to all of my colleagues who I polled on a rather minor distinction between two versions of the cover.
While I’m offering a preview of the cover, here’s a preview of the…
Table of Contents
Introduction: Race, Racism, and the Cultures of Childhood
1. The Strange Career of the Cat in the Hat; or, Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination
2. How to Read Uncomfortably: Racism, Affect, and Classic Children’s Books
3. Whiteness, Nostalgia, and Fantastic Flying Books: William Joyce’s Racial Erasures vs. Hurricane Katrina
4. Don’t Judge a Book by Its Color: The Destructive Fantasy of Whitewashing (and Vice-Versa)
5. Childhoods “Outside the Boundaries of Imagination”: Genre is the New Jim Crow
Conclusion: A Manifesto for Anti-Racist Children’s Literature
*Just to be clear: we made only minor tweaks to Mr. Heinrich’s design. This is a testament to his talents. I’m very particular about covers! (A few proposed book covers — none of which were seen publicly in that form — have yielded a fair bit of email debate between me and the publisher of the work. This one yielded hardly any such debate… because it’s great!)
Related posts on this blog; or, glimpses of the work in progress:
- Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children’s Literature, and Why We Need Diverse Books (4 Dec. 2015). The announcement of the book’s publication. It inspired a response from Debbie Reese, which in turn prompted me to change the title. Upon learning that “We Need Diverse Books” is trademarked (by the excellent We Need Diverse Books organization), I changed “Why We Need Diverse Books” to “the Need for Diverse Books.”
- The Archive of Childhood, Part 2: The Golliwog (13 Jan. 2015). A revised version of this blog post appears as part of the book’s introduction (“Race, Racism, and the Cultures of Childhood”).
- Was the Cat in the Hat Black? (22 June 2014). An earlier version of the title chapter (“The Strange Career of the Cat in the Hat; or, Dr. Seuss’s Racial Imagination”) appeared as an article, in Children’s Literature 42 (2014).
- On Reading the Expurgated Huck Finn; or, Why We Should Teach Offensive Novels (17 Oct. 2014). I wrote this blog post so that I could write about Alan Gribben’s expurgated edition of Twain. Pieces of this appear (in revised form) in Chapter 2, “How to Read Uncomfortably: Racism, Affect, and Classic Children’s Books.”
- Can Censoring a Children’s Book Remove Its Prejudices? (19 Sept. 2010). My earliest thinking on what became Chapter 2 (“How to Read Uncomfortably”), and one of the most frequently cited posts from this blog. I hope that — in future — people cite the book chapter… because it’s better!
- “The Boundaries of Imagination”; or, the All-White World of Children’s Books, 2014 (17 March 2014). On the occasion of the New York Times pieces by Christopher Myers and Walter Dean Myers, a collection of information and essays about the fight for diversity in children’s literature.
- Disagreement, Difference, Diversity: A Talk by Christopher Myers (24 Oct. 2015). A few thoughts and notes on an excellent talk by Christopher Myers. I quote from his talk in the book.
- Regarding the Pain of Racism (4 Apr. 2015). Reflections on an observation by Naomi Murakawa, and on my challenges as a White male scholar writing about oppressions I have not experienced. A few slivers of this appear in the Conclusion, “A Manifesto for Anti-Racist Children’s Literature.”
- Ferguson: Response & Resources (24 Aug. 2014). I began this book before the Black Lives Matter movement began, but it and its leaders have informed my work.
- #BlackLivesMatter — A Twitter Essay (3 Dec. 2014). Daniel Pantaleo is on video choking Eric Garner to death. When a grand jury said there was no need for a trial, I wrote this.
- Again. And Again. And… ENOUGH! (7 July 2016). The murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile inspired this. #BlackLivesMatter
- Charleston, Family History, and White Responsibility (22 June 2016). A response to the terrorism in Charleston, South Carolina. Following sustained critique from family members, I removed this from the blog — the first time that I’ve altered a post for reasons other than finding an error or a typo. However, the Wayback Machine preserved the post. Ideas expressed in it emerge in the book (notably, the end of Chapter 3), but (unlike the original post) do so without identifying specific individuals.