ART EDUCATION /
In examining picture books,paying attention to what isomitted is equally as importantas examining what is included
For example, how have di
erent presidentstreated Native Americans, or what is thein
uence of presidential advisors such asKarl Rove?
So You Want to Be President
(St.George, 2004) describes a range of motiva-tions for striving to be president, includingserving one’s country, making the world abetter place, or having power, wealth, andprestige. While celebrating past presidents,the book provides opportunities to discusswhat the presidency and leadership couldand should be.Another children’s picture book that dealswith presidential power and money,
Money, Money, Money:
e Meaning of the Art and Symbols on United States Paper Currency
(Winslow Parker, 1995), historically contextualizes U.S. paper currency.
e book highlights the meanings and practicalitiesbehind paper currency as a powerful artifactof American visual culture by decodingcurrency’s many symbols and providinginformation about the presidential portraits.
e book also provides information aboutless positive historical events, such asJackson’s persecution of the Cherokee Nationand the extreme corruption of Grant’sadministration.
is information canfacilitate deeper discussions about thecomplexity of power.
e Story of Cesar Chavez
(Krull, 2003) looks at a di
erent kind of power—the power of popular social activism.Illustrated by Yuyi Morales,
this multi-awardwinning biography of Cesar Chavez,co-founder of the National Farm WorkersAssociation (UFW),
provides many opportunities for critical discussions and artactivities related to poverty, racism, environ-mentalism, workers’ rights, immigration, andbilingualism. Although this is a wonderful,inspiring story, it fails to mention the supportof Chavez’s activist wife, Helen Fabela, orDolores Huerta, who co-founded theNational Farmworkers’ Association, or otherswho also participated in the historic 340-milemarch for workers’ rights.
e author alsofails to mention that poor working condi-tions
ect a great many migrantworkers.
ese include inadequate housing,abusive working conditions, lack of healthcare or clean water, and cancer-producingexposure to neurotoxic pesticides (UnitedFarm Workers, 2007).Although the author idealizes Chavez asan individual hero, the truth is far morecomplex. Morales visited the
elds whereChavez lived and worked, met with peoplewho knew him, and traveled the route of the1966 march.
is research informed herimages where she shows many of the peopleneglected in the text.
Other images tell di
erent stories, such asdepicting di
erent relationships to the landthan the o
en-alienated U.S. responsedocumented in recent books
(Kriesberg,1999; Louv, 2005). For example, in theopening pages, Morales shows Chavez’sextended family happily picnicking at nightunder the stars, playing music, cookingcorn, and eating watermelon while agrandmotherly
gure entertains the childrenby telling stories about Pancho Villa(Morales, 2007, personal conversation).
e colors in Morales’ di
erent landscapeschange to show the power of nature.
ey portray the heat of the drought in Arizonawhere Chavez’s family lost their farm, thebeauty of the verdant California land, andthe depressing cabin where they lived whilelaboring in the
ese images provideopportunities for art educators to compareand contrast this landscape with theirstudents’ environments to engage in artactivities that address environmental issuesboth locally and globally, such as waterrights, global warming, farming, agribusi-ness, conservation, and sustainability.Like
Americans Who Tell the Truth
(Shetterly,2005) looks at the power of social/environ-mental activism in a series of portraits of 50activists. Shetterly notes,one of the responsibilities of living in ademocracy is the obligation of every person to work toward that goal, andthat honest dissent is necessary so thatthe people can give their honest consent.(p. 1)Most of the activists stare straight into usas if seeking our hearts and souls. Eachportrait contains the activist’s name and aquote, such as this excerpt from Terry Tempest Williams, “
e eyes of the future arelooking back at us and they are praying for usto see beyond our own time” (p. 25), or CesarChavez,
Figure 2. Illustrationfrom
HarvestingHope: The Story of Cesar Chavez
byKathleen Krull,illustrations © 2003by Yuyi Morales.Reproduced bypermission of Harcourt, Inc.