Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Best Word Book Ever

(1963 on left, 1991 on right) appears with the caption:
"Will the Brave Hero rescue the Beautiful
Screaming Lady? Not in 1991, he won't."
from kokogiak's photostream on Flickr

Do you remember Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever? I HAD THAT BOOK! The original version. I loved it and would pore over every minute detail for AGES when I was a tiny tyke. A man who goes by the name Kokogiak on Flickr has posted a series of images here comparing the original 1963 version he had as a child with the 1991 edition read by his children today. It was eerie going through his documentation of the changes made. I remember the beautiful screaming lady cat in the building on fire. I remember the Brave Hero fireman. Being the feminist and generally all-around liberal gal that I am, I find I am uncomfortably torn on this one. It is right that the simplistic, stereotyped images of Native Americans have been removed. But I have NO IDEA why the words "lady" and "gentleman" were pulled. I love that there are more women and more depictions of boys and girls playing together in this updated version (although slapping on a bow and calling it a girl is a little absurd). I do think it's BRILLIANT that there is a daddy bunny in the kitchen helping mother bunny and yet...

I find myself nostalgic for the little Indian mouse. And the "Pretty Stewardess" cat. An the milkman. And the outmoded gender roles. Because when I was little, they were in the book. I think if I had little ones of my own (which is rapidly becoming part of my future plans) I would buy my kids the updated version so as not to teach them wonky backward ideas about race and gender. And THEN I'd find the old version for myself on Amazon because my kid's copy would just make me miss the beautiful screaming lady.

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