Lazy Friday: Unfortunate Covers, Extreme Makeover Edition

2 Oct

Gentle Reader: it’s Friday! A day when no work is completed past 2pm. A day when your second best khakis will do. All hail this glorious day, especially because I can take it a bit easy and focus on one piece of a book. Today we have a very very very unfortunate cover (so very unfortunate, we don’t need commas separating those “verys”). For many reasons, all to be made known to you in a sec. Let’s just say, we need not wonder why our kids fall so far behind other first-world nations in education. We can no longer be shocked that the average tenth grader cannot find any place beyond their state on a map. This started long ago, with a cover sure to confound any kid who came across it, whether they opened the thing or not. We present…the EXTREME  MAKEOVER EDITION of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Is this what they mean by "revisionist history?"

Is this what they mean by "revisionist history?"

First off, I know some folks have their theories about her sexuality and rude comments have been made about her looks, but what gave the illustrator the right to portray the First Lady as a squinty-eyed drag king there on the lower right? I will say, I do appreciate that said illustrator respected the woman said to have run the country at the time by showcasing her fine leadership skills. Like when she led the Spanish Armada. And her fearless swordswomanship upon horseback, charging into battle like King Henry V or George Washington. And while I thought my private school education was pretty darn good, my teachers did me a disservice by failing to mention that she oft wore a tri-cornered hat and rallied troops (I know some people thought she had bad fashion sense, but she was clearly dressing to her strengths with that hat and the concealing coat.)

What did you say? That’s not Eleanor Roosevelt portrayed on the cover? You say it’s a bunch of white men revered by our country while the little people who really did all the work and died in battles go unacknowledged (note: the back of the book is more of the same, White Guys and War.)

Let’s pretend for a minute we are not adults who realize this is a standard cover for a biography series. Let’s pretend we are the target audience: a bunch of third graders forced to do a biography report. Let’s get really annoyed at the cheap publisher who decided not to invest in individual covers for each book. Because either we’ll be disappointed when Eleanor never takes up sword into battle, literally, or we’ll end up randomly picking something and hating it because we aren’t even given the chance to judge a book by its cover. And don’t go expecting us to flip through the book. We’re THIRD GRADERS, for Pete’s sake. All of our extra brain power has been taken up memorizing state capitals, which we will promptly forget by fourth grade.

Eleanor deserved way better than a generic cover plastered with the Men of History (sounds like a calendar of scantily-clad hunks).  But I do like imagining her leading the Spanish Armada.

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One Response to “Lazy Friday: Unfortunate Covers, Extreme Makeover Edition”

  1. Devin October 16, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    “You say it’s a bunch of white men revered by our country while the little people who really did all the work and died in battles go unacknowledged..,”

    Good lord, you sound like one of those Anarcho-Communo-Femi-fascists* I’ve heard about! Horrors!

    I think my school had some books in this series. Which I of course read, as even in elementary school, I was a history geek. But I don’t remember them being very good.

    *Y’know, because all “ists” are the same.

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