Book News Roundup: The fight to save Pepe

  • We've written several times about how much we love the children's books of Seattle author Jessixa Bagley. If you'd like to hear Bagley discuss her life and work, she guest-starred on the All the Wonders podcast earlier this week. Make sure to check it out.

  • You probably know that Fantagraphics cartoonist Matt Furie's cartoon character Pepe the Frog has become a symbol of the Trump-loving alt-right. Furie is by all accounts a wonderful, easygoing guy who was completely blindsided by the fact that his laid-back cartoon frog has become the rough equivalent of a swastika. Now, an online petition by Furie supporters "implore[s] the Anti Defamation League, ADL, to remove the designation of Pepe the frog or any likeness as a hate symbol." Sign the petition if you agree. I've stated in the past that I don't know how much hope there is for the rehabilitation of Pepe; it's much harder to remove a meaning from a symbol than it is to add a meaning. But you certainly can't fault Furie and his friends for trying.

  • Remember when we told you that the TSA was testing a program requiring agents to go through books and magazines at airport security checkpoints? Great news! Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed says that the TSA has "abandoned" the program and "there are no plans to restore the pilot or to expand it."

  • Open Culture examines "The Splendid Book Design of the 1946 Edition of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." I saw these books once when I was a used bookseller and, unlike the tens thousands of books that passed over my desk in those years, I remember perfectly what this edition of Decline and Fall looks like. Book design is so important.

  • The Association for Library Service to Children is looking for people of color who are willing to volunteer to join its awards and media evaluation committees. This paragraph is exactly the kind of thing you want to see from an organization of librarians in 2017:

It is an inconvenient truth for many of us, mostly white, that our industry (which I use here loosely to mean work in children’s books) upholds the systemic racism that is prevalent throughout the wider media industry and most institutions and communities in our country. It can be uncomfortable to confront the foundations of one’s own expertise in and passion for children’s books and examine where some of our judgments of quality we think are “unbiased” are only so when viewed through the lens of white privilege. But this white inconvenience, this white discomfort, is paltry when compared to what we create for communities of color by pretending this problem does not exist, or is not our own job to fix. To do our job, in service of the job of the child, many of us will need to start listening more, speaking less, and using our expertise to make space for and amplify voices that shine, in the multitude of ways a voice can shine.