Tag Archives: book illustrations

Book WTF: Something’s missing

My husband, the son of Korean immigrants, was very excited to find this Korean language children’s picture dictionary on display at the library. We immediately decided we should check it out so the girls could learn some more Korean words– us too. None of us speak Korean, not even my husband who grew up hearing the language non-stop.

My husband was a little surprised when he opened the book to discover this as the first picture.

What a multi-cultural family… without a single person who looks remotely Asian… in a Korean picture dictionary. Huh.

He showed it to me, and I just sort of shrugged saying it was probably a multicultural book and there would be pictures of Asians in there somewhere. Surely the majority of the people pictured in this book would have to be Korean, or at least some sort of Asian.

We turned the page.

We are pretty sure this girl isn’t Korean.

Oh good, an education page. Koreans are big into education. Surely there should be an Asian in the classroom somewhere…

Nope, she’s not Korean either.

Oh look, an American-looking farm. Is the farmer Korean?

No, he’s white.

Well, maybe there’s just a bunch of multi-ethnic people living in Korea. I mean, not all the pictures have to have Asians in them. We don’t want Korea to get a reputation of being all Asian. However, surely a Korean language book would have a picture of some Korean things or at least a Korean city. EDIT: I’m told this is Detroit.

Nope! This is clearly America. See the American flags and English signs? This isn’t even Koreatown!

There is absolutely nothing Korean in this entire book, aside from the words.

My husband and I couldn’t stop giggling over this book. We couldn’t figure out why the hell anyone would completely avoid Asians in an Korean language book. Finally, we figured out that they must have used the same pictures in a series of language dictionary books.

I went to investigate, but couldn’t find another book in the series. I spoke to the librarian (who was younger than me, which is just plain wrong! Librarians should be old! Or at least older than me!) and she said they were already aware of the issue. Apparently the head librarian had seen a sample book in something like Spanish and ordered the whole series. Little did she know that the same pictures appeared in every single book! These pictures might have worked well in the French and Spanish books, but to not have a single Asian in an Korean language book? Weird.

So, I guess this should be a lesson for publishers out there: maybe you can save money by reusing pictures for most language picture dictionaries, but if you are making a picture dictionary for language that is almost exclusively spoken by a certain race, you should probably include at least one member of that race in the pictures.

I mean really, not a single Asian person in the entire Korean picture dictionary? WTF?



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Book Illustration WTF: Poop or Pickle?

While helping my daughter do this preschool workbook, I did a double take while we were trying to figure out what letter represented each picture.

Wait, what?

When we got to the circled picture, I said “What IS that?” It looked just like poop to me. But it couldn’t be poop. It was a preschool workbook. They wouldn’t put poop in a preschool workbook, would they?

Very questionable image.

I looked at it closer. I wasn’t sure.

That’s when Lily said “Pickle starts with ‘P’, Mommy!”. Yes. Yes, indeed. Pickle does start with “P”. OBVIOUSLY, it’s a pickle. Not poop. What was I thinking? If you look at it REALLY closely, it does have a slightly greenish hue.

But mostly it looks brown. And when I looked at the answer key, it said the correct answer was “p”, but “poop” also starts with “p”. So, I am still not convinced that illustration is not poop.

Lesson: If you are going to put a picture of a pickle in a children’s book, you had better make sure it prints more green than brown.

Share bizarre book illustrations on this blog by emailing them to creativekidsplay@gmail.com.


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Misleading Book Cover

Based on this cover, what happens in this book?

a) The child on the left is a ghost or a witch leading the child on the right to a Blair Witch type-cottage.
b) The children are about to be murdered in the “Little Clearing in the Woods”.
c) Both children are ghosts haunting people who live in the “Little Clearing in the Woods”.
d) These Amish children are about to get themselves into modern world trouble.
e) One of the girls on the cover is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother, Caroline Quiner, who once moved to a “Little Clearing in the Woods”.

The correct answer is e), it is a book about Caroline Quiner Ingalls’s childhood. I think the cover looks much more ominous than just your regular old “Little House on the Prairie” spin-off book. The way the one girl is pointing somehow makes me think that something very spooky is about to happen.

The truth is, the book is pretty doom-free, even for a “Little House” book. I think a crop is destroyed by frost, but what else is new?

Did you all even know that there are a whole series of “Little House on the Prairie” spin-off books chronicling the lives of various Laura Ingalls Wilder ancestors? I didn’t until just couple months ago. Most of the books came out after I got out of my “Little House” phase. At one time, I would read any “Little House” I could get my hands on. I’m reliving those days right now and enjoying it very much.

If you liked “Little House” and haven’t read the new series yet, they (and there are multiple added series) are fantastic! I have been reading “The Caroline Years” series by Maria D. Wilkes and I think I might like them even better than the original series. Blasphemous! But seriously, The Caroline Years rock. The lost Laura book and the one about Mary at the school for the blind weren’t nearly as great, but still very entertaining.

If you are concerned about the books not being based in fact, consider this: The Little House books WERE fictional even though they were based on Laura’s life. Fact that will rock your world: Nellie Oleson is a fictional character. Might as well enjoy more Little House based books if you liked them the first time around!


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Poor Photo Choice

Check out the picture of Shel Silverstein on the back of my daughter’s new copy of “The Giving Tree”.

Who on earth decided that this was the best possible picture of Shel Silverstein to put on the back of his classic? I’ve always loved Shel, but I remember him looking a lot more friendly than that on the back of my books. Doesn’t it look like he’s snarling at the camera or something? I’m almost scared to let Lily see the back of the book because Shel looks so freaky.

Why not use this photo, or any number of nice Shel pictures I found on the internet?

I think Shel would be insulted if he knew that first awful picture of him was being used on his book covers. I rather have no picture of Shel at all than the one that’s there. It gives me the creeps just to look at it.



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Bizarre Book Illustrations: Bert and Ernie do “Wizard of Oz”

In honor of Purple Day, Bert and Ernie are showing their spirit and pride.

This illustration is from the “Sesame Street” book “Best Friends”. I don’t think the illustrators intended it to be a gay pride drawing, but I’m not sure what other conclusion to come to from a “Wizard of Oz”-themed drawing where Ernie is dressed like Dorothy to oil up Bert.

I’m all for the depiction of gay characters on “Sesame Street”. I just wish Ernie and Bert would show their pride out in the open and come out of the closet. I can’t think of a better message of acceptance to show to kids than “Sesame Street” embracing an openly gay Ernie and Bert.

All that said, this illustration strikes me as odd and accidental and made me laugh at the illustrators for what they probably unintentionally implied.

What bizarre illustrations have you found in your child’s book? Share them on this blog by sending them to creativekidsplay@gmail.com.


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