20 Following



Ladybugs - Gail Gibbons (Advance warning--this post isn't much about Gibbons' pre-K book.)

Not being a librarian I had no idea how many ladybug books there were out there. How does this become the number one topic for insect books? (In a way, it seems racist--very anti-aphid, if you ask me.) Looks like there's one 2008 title from Scholastic on aphids without even a cover photo on goodreads (see B&N or google books for the cover).

The ladybug book is a pretty good example of passive censorship. When the market trends one direction, and ladybugs become super popular, then we realize that the decisions on what doesn't get published are all made behind closed doors. A good old-fashioned book banning is so easy to see and decry as censorship, but it happens far less than we would like to think, and far less successfully today than ever before. The more difficult form of censorship lives inside the publishing industry that also works to give us so many wonderful books, too! No one pickets around the children's information shelf decrying the inequities of aphids.

The ladybug-aphid picture book inequity is a pretty good example of something being under erasure. We can see the aphid book as a possible sign, but with a fairly clear movement to dismiss it. Within the ladybug book, aphids are never discussed scientifically to discover their purpose and function in the ecosystem--they are only pests and ladybug lunch!

One of the best current picturebooks for shifting the topical conversation is Molly Bang & Penny Chisolm's Ocean Sunlight. Writing a book about plankton is like writing a book about grass. It would take a master to make it interesting! There's more of this needed in the information book industry, or else it's all going to be sharks, dinosaurs, and ladybugs. Down with passive censorship!