Lately, my students and I have been studying not only the effectiveness of biological illustrations, but also the efficacy of their own illustrations to personally enhance the knowledge of abstract concepts. As well, I have been engaged in some short but interesting discussions with Dr. Mishra at MSU concerning the validity of visualizations. None of these interesting interactions, however, hold a candle to those between my eldest daughter and I. Big surprise, huh?
She has shelves upon shelves of amazing books that have come from her mom and I, gifts from others, or direct picks from Delaney herself. One of these books is the subject of this post. I had noticed the scientific inaccuracies on “number seven” before today. Yet- I hadn’t really looked seriously at what was going on because I generally hate this book, and usually try to get mommy to read this one when it comes up. Yes, this one was a gift. No biology instructor would ever purposefully unleash this one upon their progeny.
Details? Who cares?
I understand where you are coming from if you tell me the content details that are so fouled up here aren’t important at age two. I get that. However, this kid can tell the difference between a barracuda and a salmon in one book, and then be able to transfer what a barracuda looks like and “does” when seeing a photograph of mine flash across my laptop’s screen saver:
I don’t know. As I’ve said before, I’m no early childhood expert. My learning about EC education occurs as we experience it through our lovely daughters. However, I have to at least give myself props for keen observation skills and an active framework for constructivist learning (as well as other approaches).
However, page seven of this book is just… well… dumb. Page seven features an octopus as a painter with tubes of paint in all tentacles. Not only is this the representative creature for the number seven, it has seven tentacles. Yes- count them. Seven tentacles. One tube of paint in each. Not to menton the fact that the page goes on to suggest that seven rainbow paints can “…make a world of make-believe or Never Never Land.” Wow. Ok.
All silliness aside… are you kidding me? Page seven? The octopus sits on page seven in this book? I mean, this creature isn’t named “tentacle-critter.” It is named “OCTO-pus” as in: eight. Eight of something- you don’t even need to know what. But ask someone before you put the brush into the paint can next time. Seriously. Or wait- perhaps the illustrator simply applied color to the author’s words? Regardless, there you have it in the end, a seven-tentacled beast staring gleefully back at you. Am I saying that a children’s author needs to hold a degree in biology? Not remotely. Though I would argue that if you wish to publish, take note of basic prefixes.
What I thought a few weeks ago was a glaring error, just tonight became a full-on dumbfest. A silly soiree. When skipping to page ten, we see ten terrific sea turtles. Actually, according to the book, we see “ten tiny tortoises swimming in the sea.” Yeah- no. No we don’t. I am willing to bet no one has seen tortoises swimming in the sea. Considering the general common language surrounding the taxonomic order Chelonia is that all are turtles. Those spending their lives near water (and especially those spending it in water) are always referred to as turtles. Only those living the most terrestrial of lives get to be called tortoises. Even those in the middle, who spend some of their lives near water are often referred to as terrapins… but never tortoises. A book depicting “tortoises” doing loop-de-loops in the sea, is not for me.
What is this- a conspiracy?
I have no author to blame here. Honestly, I can’t. This book hasn’t an author listed, an illustrator credited, etc. The front and back covers depict a series of books called “Animal Crackers” to which this particular volume belongs, although there is no other information to be found. I would chalk this up to the nature of a children’s book, though all of our others seemingly have a plethora of documentation and credits. I do suspect that it makes some sick sense to not want any sort of “credit” for this remarkable work to be placed upon your resume. The only thing I can find on the back cover is “Copyright 2005 Edicart – Printed in China for Books Are Fun Ltd., 1680 Highway 1 North, Fairfield, Iowa.”
My wife is from Iowa. Smart people hail from Iowa. So tell me readers… why am I crazy here? Why is this really no big deal at all? Why is it not embarrasingly funny and sad all in one icky-literacy-burrito?