Review of the Day: Genies, Meanies, and Magic Rings (Part Two)
(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)
Illustrators often end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to critiquing the books they work upon. Because I had read (and greatly enjoyed) the Stephen Mitchell book of poetry for children, “The Wishing Bone”, I had seen Mr. Tom Pohrt’s work before. His images aren’t flashy or pompous. They’re small subtle complements to the action. Maybe two figures will relax in one image and in another a woman will scold. It would be easy enough to slip into Arab stereotyping in this kind of book, but Pohrt has the matter well in hand, and every character is a unique individual. If Mitchell makes the book worth reading then Pohrt makes it worth viewing.
The matter of race takes a funny turn in these books. I don’t know how necessary it would have been to mention that the villain in Aladdin was, “a tall dark-skinned man with a long nose.” I might also be interested in looking up the original text to see if this description was always the case (turban and all). Also, the genie is described as a white dude (my words, not his) with golden hair and a beard, as featured on the cover of this book. An interesting choice and one that I suspect might lead to a very interesting discussion of textual analysis and race in children’s interpretations of past fairy tales and fables.
On the whole, however, I can’t imagine any reasonable arguments against buying this title immediately if not sooner. You already own an edition of these tales? Uh huh. And do the kids dig it? Anyone looking for a text to combat Disney’s version of “Aladdin” would do well to grab this book for their shelves pronto. Well-researched, well-written, well on its way to making a name for Mitchell and Pohrt.
On shelves August 7th.
Filed under: Reviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
SLJ Blog Network