Monday, July 05, 2010

Burning Questions from The Meltingpot

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

It's been awhile, but my mind has not stopped wondering about a few things. Maybe you can help me figure out the answers.

1. I love to read, we know that. I love to read about multicultural characters, we know that too. So how is it possible, it wasn't until yesterday that I heard of the very prolific author, Zetta Elliott? I stopped by my local indie bookstore bemoaning my lack of inspiration to revise my YA novel and the very wise and competent bookseller dropped Elliott's book, A Wish After Midnight into my lap. The novel is about a 15-year-old Black girl who gets transported back in time, from her modern Brooklyn neighborhood into Civil-War-era New York. It's been compared to Octavia Butler's Kindred (which I read and loved) and Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time (another book I LOVED!!!). So is it just me, or have the rest of you all heard of Elliott? What can you tell me about her work?

2. This is a quickie. How many of you plan to boycott the film, The Last Airbender because of the whitewashed casting? If you're like me, you don't even know what an Airbender is, but you feel for the cause. Apparently the movie is based on a comic featuring Asian/Inuit characters. In the movie however, the Asians appear only in the background or as bad guys and White actors get all of the glory. (grrr). So I can't say I'm boycotting the movie because of this, because I wouldn't have seen it anyway, but I will talk about it if someone asks. What do you think about the boycott? Justified? Need more information? Check out this new website created to educate people and protest against Hollywood whitewashing. (Photo above from blog Thoughts on the Asian Stage)

3. Did anybody else not take their kids to see fireworks yesterday? I'm not unpatriotic, but I couldn't fathom the idea of dragging my kids to Center City Philadelphia to sit amongst the throngs of people trying to do the same thing. There were no community fireworks displays near our home, so I said forget it. But I'm not a total holiday humbug. In the spirit of our country's independence, we took the kids on a tour of this historical house which played a pivotal role in the revolutionary war. And then we went to eat at our favorite Korean restaurant, followed by cherry slurpees from 7-Eleven. If that's not an all-American experience I don't know what is. And my kids thought it was a perfect day. So what did you do?


P.S. The Winner of the Katherine Paterson book, The Day of the Pelican is AnaCeleste. Ana, please send an email to with your mailing address so I can get this book to you before you fly off to Korea!!!


MiaLiA said...

Thank you, LT, for posting this. I wrote a review of TLA for my blog yesterday, but decided against posting it. It turned into this huge rant about character typecasting, and how this story's 3 main characters are Caucasian, though everything else (the people of their village, the garb, the environ, not to mention really cute actors in secondary roles!) are clearly of East Asian & Native American inspiration. It's difficult to explain why the matter hit me so hard, but I thank and honor you for putting to words what I have difficulty doing.

MamaB said...

I had never heard of The Last Airbender until the movie came out but it sounds so typical of Hollywood.

For the 4th, my daughter was very bummed that we didn't see fireworks. Instead, we went to see Toy Story 3, first movie experience for my 3 yr old and 5 yr old. We also went to a 4th of July celebration in the afternoon which included lots of patriotic songs, a band, and a small parade. My kids only cared about the ice cream at the end.

BloggingQueen said...

"The Last Airbender": Gaaack. I'm just glad reviewers are saying the storyline of the movie is incomprehensible as well as whitewashed. Now I have no reason to see the movie and every reason to avoid it.

Thank you so much for telling me about A Wish After Midnight! Kindred is one of my all-time favorite books. Now I'm wishing both of them had been available to me when I was in junior high school.

But I have to say: now I'm on a quest to find such books with biracial or black boys as the protagonists. I hope to find something for my sons, who are biracial like yours (although their dad is American-born). Maybe it's that I notice them more as a woman, but it seems books like these are usually focused on girls or young women.

If you've posted links or lists of suggestions in that area, could you repost them?

LT said...

You're welcome. And I hope you decide to post your opinion too.

Yes, ice cream really is the most important thing.

You know I don't really have a good list of books with Black/biracial boy characters. But geez, you make such a good point. Right now my nine-year old is all into Harry Potter, but after that...? I'm on it and will let you know what I find.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Here is an interesting link to an interview with the M. Night, the director. He's been caught in the middle of the controversy.

Not sure why he's surprised.

Despite the bad reviews and controversy, the movie is doing better than expected.

SweetKinks said...

Tell you the truth, I loved Airbender regardless of the race of the characters. I think the actors did a fantastic job.
But now that this whitewashing casting has come to my attention I feel as though it is a big problem in hollywood.
I really really loved the movie, and I am disappointing in the race of the characters in the movie. There is probably going to be 2 more movies, to go with the parts in the cartoon series. As the story goes on there are more characters that come into the lives of the main characters. So maybe there might be more diversity in the upcoming Airbender movies.

Oh, and I was really excited that Dev Patel was playing the bad guy. I knew he was going to do great.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

I like Elliot's writing too. You know her blog I read there pretty regularly.

A book with a black male character that I enjoyed and fourth graders love is Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins and the following sequels. Main character is a black guy about 11 but the story is not about race. It's an adventure/fantasy book.

JBH said...

Been out of the blog know why!

But saw your picture of Last Airbender...and it pushed my button!

I will not be seeing this movie, if I can help it. I've almost caved because the special effects look so tantalizing in the ads. I'm glad to hear from another commenter that the action movie plot line was not so hot.

Instead, I'm watching the TV series through NetFlix with my kids. They are so into it! It is humorous, witty, and does truly celebrate Asian/Inuit cultures in their fantasy plot.

I hope that watching the TV series will not make the kids beg me to see the movie. But, then again, they know about the whitewashing already...and agree that it's wrong.