TOPIC: Imagine you are a child reading a book and cannot fully relate to the main character. She doesn’t look like you or deal with many of the issues you deal with every day. Well, that is what it is like for millions of African American children (including the children of many of your readers)…until now.
Artist Monroe S Tarver is making cultural strides as he introduces Imagia and the Magic Pearls (Wizarding World Press, November 2009), a children’s fantasy book featuring an ethnic elf princess. As the author and illustrator, Tarver wanted desperately fill the desire of so many African American parents and children to read a book with a character that looks like them.
This drives the question: Is the general mainstream market ready formain characters? Well, Disney thinks so. The media giant recently announced they would premier a black princess for the first time in their 2009 movie, “ ”.
- Is America ready for black main characters in books and film? How our new world culture is opening doors **Tie to Disney’s upcoming movie “The Princess and the Frog”**
- How Tarver’s experience as an African American helped him form the story and illustrations in Imagia and the Magic Pearls
- The recent decision by to place a fair-skinned girl on the cover of a book about a black character
- Why it is vitally important to cultivate children’s imaginations in today’s world
New Children’s Fantasy Book Will Test the Multicultural Impact on by President Obama and Disney
When Monroe S Tarver first created the elf princess for his children’s story, Imagia and the Magic Pearls (Wizarding World Press, November 2009), he had never seen a black-skinned fairy or black elf princess before. Tarver was hoping his twist on the traditional classic fantasy image would be acceptable to the general mainstream market in 2009.
Imagine Tarver’s surprise when media giant Disney also announced they would premier a black princess for the first time in their 2009 movie, “The Princess and the Frog”. That would certainly seem to help, but Tarver still is not sure how it will impact printed works, such as Imagia and the Magic Pearls, the first book in his Tales from the Mapmaker series.
“I am hoping it will open the door wider for me and other authors like me, but the book industry has been just as behind as the movie industry when it comes to the portrayal of ethnic characters,” Tarver explained. “The recent controversy over Justine Larbalestier’s cover reinforces that skin color still matters in publishing. My publisher and I both felt it was important to place my ethnic elf princess on the cover of my book. We are really going to be testing this.”
Book publisher Bloomsbury recently decided to put the image of a long-haired, fair-skinned female on the cover of Liar, a book about a short-haired black character. Larbalestier, the author, was not happy with the cover. However, her publisher overrode her objections. They felt the long-haired, pale girl would sell best—even though it had nothing to do with the story. Many people are examining the bookshelves and wondering whether the industry is truly responding to public taste, or if it is out of touch with the public and needs a “face lift.”
The timing might seem that Tarver’s and Disney’s projects were inspired by President Barack Obama’s success, but both began their work long before his race for the presidency. Therefore, those coincidences are not driven by hype but by a nation that has become truly multicultural. However, there is still the question of whether the book industry is ready for this cultural change.
It is clear that parents have been hoping for this trend for a long time. “I, as a black female, am happy that they are making a black princess film (wish they had one when I was a kid, would have been nice),” posted Kristin Smith on ComingSoon.net. Comments like this one reflect the opinions posted across the Web about a black main character in the upcoming Disney movie.
Monroe S Tarver, an African American, is the author and illustrator of Imagia and the Magic Pearls, an exciting adventure portraying the power of imagination. He attended Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. Wizarding World Press is an established name in fantasy, pop culture and children’s book publishing. They are best known for their incredibly popular series of Harry Potter fan guides, including Unofficial Guide to the Mysteries of Harry Potter.
Tales from the Mapmaker: Imagia and the Magic Pearls by Monroe S Tarver (Wizarding World Press, November 2009, ISBN, $6.99)
For more information, visit www.talesfromthemapmaker.com.
-Courtesy of Imagia and the Magic Pearls: Tales from the Mapmaker by Monroe S. Tarver
I jumped at the chance to review the book Imagia and the Magic Pearls by Monroe S. Tarver. Its about time there were more relatable characters in childrens literature!
First I want to say congratulations to Mr. Tarver! It is obvious after reviewing my copy of Imagia and the Magic Pearls and related content that he has worked tirelessly on developing this book. He is the sole author and illustrator for the book.
Imagia and the Magic Pearls is a 112 page chapter book for children ages 5-9. It is softcover, illustrated throughout ( with beautiful, vivid illustrations) and is the first book in a planned series named Tales from the Mapmaker. In fact Mr. Monroe doesn't consider himself just the author and illustrator of Imagia and the Magic Pearls, he is the mapmaker and storyteller too!
Is America ready for black main characters in books and film? Well I for one should hope so! But it seems that Imagia and the Magic Pearls is one of the first books to feature an ethnic elf princess. And just recently the film The Princess and the Frog by Disney was the first time an African American was featured as the main character.
I received a rough copy of the book Imagia and the Magic Pearls. Included were some trading cards featuring the characters from the book and a small bag of real cultured pearls for my daughter to enjoy along with the story. We can't decide whether out favorite character is Freewind, or Baddora!
The book is written with delightful language and the illustrations are sure to have your child wanting to read more.
The Bottom Line: Pick up a copy of this trailblazing book asap! With more books to come in the series, lets hope this won't be the last time you see ethnic charcters popping up as the main characters in your kids books. Congrats again to Mr. Tarver!
*I received a copy of Imagia and the Magic Pearls to facilitate my candid and honest review. No other form of compensation was or will be given. All views are my own!