Hey, everyone! Time for review number four of Banned Books Week…
Today, we will be taking a look at the American Library Association’s 2nd most challenged book of 2011: The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa. This Korea set book finds its way all the way up to the 2nd spot due to nudity and inappropriate thematic elements for some age groups.
Synopsis: The book follows, Ehwa, a young Korean girl as she discovers boys, puberty, and all the awkward things that come along with that mysterious time in a teen’s life. Ehwa does have the guidance of her mother in her discovery, but her mother, having been widowed years ago, has her heart set on a new man for the first time in many years, so she’s experiencing a sexual awakening as well. Ehwa, her mom, and some of Ehwa’s friends like boys; some boys like them; it’s the circle of life.
Pros (and/or what you can use in the classroom): I have to be honest, I’m having a hard time writing about this novel (as is evident in that terrible sentence that is the final sentence of the Synopsis), and the major reason is one of the things that makes this book good: in my opinion, it’s more appropriate as a female read. It’s extremely rare to find a graphic novel that appeals more to females than males (at least the stuff that I’ve been reading), and that’s where this book can find a good home, but you won’t find it on my classroom shelf (see cons).
The coming of age story is honest, heart-felt, and at times, can relate to all, since we have all experienced falling for someone when the time was not right for it to work out. The art is also magnificent, and the blank space that Kim Dong Hwa uses on the pages is brilliant.
Cons: There are a few things that I would like to say here…first, I imagine that this book would be difficult for male students to dig in to; however, when I say that, I feel like a hypocrite since I gave all students Spider-Man last year and expected female students to just accept it; however, they did. Actually, many of the female students, having never been exposed to a hero book, loved Spider-Man and thanked me for exposing them to it. Maybe the same thing would happen here with The Color of Earth. But, as I’ve mentioned countless times, an educator has to have passion for what they are teaching, and I am not passionate about this book; I had a hard time relating to the majority of the story, and I would never feign excitement with my students. Also, I’d never be comfortable teaching the book since there is nudity, bodily fluids, and a ton of sexual innuendo. All of these questionable aspects of the book can be argued as completely innocent and a part of the adolescent experience (or just the experience of life), but I would not have that argument with parents, faculty, and administration, especially for a book that I did not feel strongly about. The explicit portrayal of coming of age here is too tough to argue. An amount of what is evident in the book is covered in health class anyway, so find other titles to discover the themes portrayed in this book with your class: that’s my advice.
Rating: I have to give this book an N/A. Check it out for yourselves, and please disagree with me and put my argument on blast, but unless you teach college, you will have an impossible time convincing me that this book could be taught at any other level.
You may find this book amazing. Like I said, it’s heart-felt and beautiful. Heck, read it with your kids at home if you want, and by all means, let me know what you think.
And hey, if you have not been checking out www.thecomicbookteacher.com and his reviews this week, I suggest you do; they have been great!
Happy reading, everyone!