CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 34. . . .May 3, 2013
Part activity book, part biography, Marcus Teaches Us was self-published by Eleanor Wint, a now retired social work professor who formerly taught at the University of Northern British Columbia The title’s Marcus is, of course, Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican political leader and proponent of Black nationalism and the Pan-African movement. Much of the text of this thin book consists of brief excerpts or paraphrases from Garvey’s writings.
What will probably cause Marcus Teaches Us to be bypassed by most school and public libraries is that its contents invite readers to either write on or colour many of the pages. For example, the first three pages invite the reader to take “ownership” of the book by:
And the next page asks readers to colour a picture of Marcus, while, on p. 15, the reader is to “Connect the dotted lines and then use your crayons or markers to colour the spaces as marked by the letters showing.” Page 21 is a map of the world, and the text challenges readers: “Can you write in the names of the Continents?” Pages 22 and 23 ask the reader to match seven names (H.I.M. Haile Selassie I, Louise Bennet (Miss Lou), Harriet Tubman; Martin Luther King Jr., Ziggy Marley, Barrack Obama & Rosa Parks) with the correct photographs, a very challenging task for even the upper end of the book’s recommended audience of “4-8 year olds” [according to promotional materials accompanying the review copy]. While I assume I correctly identified them all (there is no answer key), it was only because I recognized seven of them and, by subtraction, could match the one name I didn’t know with the remaining photo. A Google search revealed that Louise Bennet (Miss Lou) is a Jamaican poet. The text on pages 33 and 34 asks, “Can you help me colour the picture?”, the picture consisting of a double-page spread of jungle animals. The next two pages, which are the book’s closing pages, again invite reader participation. This time the reader is given a colour code and invited to colour the flags of Jamaica and the U.N.I.A. Nowhere does Wint explain to her young readers that U.N.I.A stands for the United Negro Improvement Association nor does she directly connect the organization to Marcus Garvey.
Most of the non-participatory content of Marcus Teaches Us cannot readily stand on its and will demand that a parent or other caregiver facilitate the child listener/reader’s understanding of Gravey’s philosophy that is being articulated in the text.
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.