Does it matter that little Tony is black?

Use this forum to discuss the July 2018 Book of the Month "Toni the Superhero" by R.D. Base
Post Reply
User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Does it matter that little Tony is black?

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 05:33

Tony is a jovial little black kid always with a broad smile on his face. He is engaged in the typical activities of a kid his age.

Is he meant to defy the superhero stereotype especially since he does not seem to be doing anything extraordinary?
Did you feel the book undermines the myth of the white superhero and carries a message of inter-racial tolerance?

My fear is the message could be exactly the opposite. Little black kids can only do ordinary things like helping their mother, sweeping the floor or dusting the furniture. The superpowers still belong to the little white kids. I am wondering if Tony will actually have some superpowers in the next books of the series. What do you think?
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
Miriam Molina
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 4053
Joined: 02 May 2017, 20:17
2018 Reading Goal: 48
2017 Reading Goal: 36
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 133
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 125
Currently Reading: A Stained White Radiance
Bookshelf Size: 538
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-miriam-molina.html
Latest Review: Never Enough Love by AKA John Lazano
Reading Device: B00KC6I06S

Post by Miriam Molina » 01 Jul 2018, 06:29

Some reviews of this book are actually comparing Toni to T'Challa of Black Panther fame. I say it's about time we shatter the myth of white superheroes.

User avatar
bookowlie
Special Discussion Leader
Posts: 7671
Joined: 25 Oct 2014, 09:52
2017 Reading Goal: 52
2017 Reading Goal Completion: 50
Favorite Book: The Lost Continent
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 320
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookowlie.html
Latest Review: Dream happy be great by Gary Krutz PhD

Post by bookowlie » 01 Jul 2018, 08:16

Christinaro - Interesting question! I didn't view it as black kids can only do ordinary things while the superpowers belong to the white kids. For me, the story showed that important people (superheroes) still do ordinary activities and chores like everyone else.
"I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship" - Louisa May Alcott

User avatar
Bookmermaid
Posts: 294
Joined: 06 May 2018, 08:13
2018 Reading Goal: 24
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 158
Currently Reading: McDowell
Bookshelf Size: 77
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bookmermaid.html
Latest Review: Island Games by Caleb J. Boyer

Post by Bookmermaid » 01 Jul 2018, 08:22

cristinaro wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 05:33
Tony is a jovial little black kid always with a broad smile on his face. He is engaged in the typical activities of a kid his age.

Is he meant to defy the superhero stereotype especially since he does not seem to be doing anything extraordinary?
Did you feel the book undermines the myth of the white superhero and carries a message of inter-racial tolerance?

My fear is the message could be exactly the opposite. Little black kids can only do ordinary things like helping their mother, sweeping the floor or dusting the furniture. The superpowers still belong to the little white kids. I am wondering if Tony will actually have some superpowers in the next books of the series. What do you think?
I would also be worried if this was the message that the book ingrained in the minds of black children. It's amazing how complicated a simple story can become.

User avatar
AmySmiles
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 1228
Joined: 21 Mar 2018, 10:43
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 146
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-amysmiles.html
Latest Review: Letters From The War by Amanda Bryant

Post by AmySmiles » 01 Jul 2018, 09:29

It didn't come across to me that way. I was taking it to mean that superheroes still have to do everyday chores. I guess I thought it was just showing kids that just because you may have special talents doesn't mean you no longer participate in every day duties.
Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
–Author Unknown

User avatar
gen_g
Posts: 1017
Joined: 22 Apr 2018, 10:31
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 41
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-gen-g.html
Latest Review: Best Evidence by Mark S. Osaki

Post by gen_g » 01 Jul 2018, 10:30

This is an interesting question! However, I feel like this is now up to the parents/people reading the book to the child in question. The adult is the one responsible for the education of the younger masses, aka creating a colourblind society, and it is important to start it young. In other words, the adult has to let the child know that doing your daily chores is also a form of superhero activity, and it is not in any form inferior to other children with "actual superhero powers" (whether white or not).

User avatar
Bianka Walter
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 985
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 15:22
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 112
Favorite Book: The Old Man and the Sea
Currently Reading: In a Cottage In a Wood
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bianka-walter.html
Latest Review: The Ordinary Extraordinary Dog by Andrew Sherriff
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Bianka Walter » 01 Jul 2018, 10:30

The fact that Toni is black didn't even register on my radar until this thread. So I obviously felt none of the above.
And I don't think it will for kids either. They just see another kid, it's us adults that notice the colour :)
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
- Dr. Seuss

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 10:32

Miriam Molina wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 06:29
Some reviews of this book are actually comparing Toni to T'Challa of Black Panther fame. I say it's about time we shatter the myth of white superheroes.
I agree with you and I am thinking something similar happened in the case of T'Challa. I mean, the message is practically that black superheroes can save the day the same as white superheroes. In this case, the author could have even gone a step further and demolished the superhero myth on the whole.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 10:43

bookowlie wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 08:16
Christinaro - Interesting question! I didn't view it as black kids can only do ordinary things while the superpowers belong to the white kids. For me, the story showed that important people (superheroes) still do ordinary activities and chores like everyone else.
I also like the idea of showing children that superheroes are in fact similar to any other person in their daily lives or that you don't need to fly or save the world, to be a superhero. What I find confusing is this: will Tony actually have superpowers or not? If he has superpowers in the next books of the series, then I would have prefered him to do something extraordinary first and after that to have him engaged in ordinary activities. If he still does ordinary things in the next books, then the message would be children could feel like superheroes by simply enjoying their childhood and being happy.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 10:51

Bookmermaid wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 08:22
cristinaro wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 05:33
Tony is a jovial little black kid always with a broad smile on his face. He is engaged in the typical activities of a kid his age.

Is he meant to defy the superhero stereotype especially since he does not seem to be doing anything extraordinary?
Did you feel the book undermines the myth of the white superhero and carries a message of inter-racial tolerance?

My fear is the message could be exactly the opposite. Little black kids can only do ordinary things like helping their mother, sweeping the floor or dusting the furniture. The superpowers still belong to the little white kids. I am wondering if Tony will actually have some superpowers in the next books of the series. What do you think?
I would also be worried if this was the message that the book ingrained in the minds of black children. It's amazing how complicated a simple story can become.
You're right about that. At first I was quite taken by surprise with this book becoming BOTM. I was also amazed to discover how many positive reviews it received. I asked myself why this happened. I guess my questions reflect my confusion. I have studied child psychology for a while and maybe this is the reason why I have some reservations about this book in terms of organization and content.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 10:57

AmySmiles wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 09:29
It didn't come across to me that way. I was taking it to mean that superheroes still have to do everyday chores. I guess I thought it was just showing kids that just because you may have special talents doesn't mean you no longer participate in every day duties.
What would you think then? Do children still need superheroes in their lives? I know what you're saying is simply that the author wanted children to see the humane, relatable nature of superheroes. However, doesn't this mean making everything much too mundane and boring or is it simply a means of telling children they can be superheroes too?
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 11:11

gen_g wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 10:30
This is an interesting question! However, I feel like this is now up to the parents/people reading the book to the child in question. The adult is the one responsible for the education of the younger masses, aka creating a colourblind society, and it is important to start it young. In other words, the adult has to let the child know that doing your daily chores is also a form of superhero activity, and it is not in any form inferior to other children with "actual superhero powers" (whether white or not).
You're right about the guiding roles of the adults and our implicit duty to create what you wonderfully call a "colourblind society." Changing the tone of our conversation, don't you think Tony already sets a very high standard? :) I mean, he seems to be liking an awful lot of things. I found myself thinking the author was pretty smart in choosing the pattern "to like" instead of "can". Imagine the following substitution: Tony can swim... read... dance..., etc. I think many readers have made this switch in their minds without being aware of it. It would make sense for Tony the superhero to be able to do a number of things rather than simply liking them.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
cristinaro
Posts: 879
Joined: 07 Jan 2018, 03:51
Favorite Book: The Magic Mountain
Currently Reading:
Bookshelf Size: 166
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-cristinaro.html
Latest Review: My Groans Pour Out Like Water by Frances Bloom
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by cristinaro » 01 Jul 2018, 11:20

Bianka Walter wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 10:30
The fact that Toni is black didn't even register on my radar until this thread. So I obviously felt none of the above.
And I don't think it will for kids either. They just see another kid, it's us adults that notice the colour :)
I guess my cultural conditioning and scholar training are to be blamed for my observations. :) It could be interesting to show the book to a number of children and see what happens. We learn about racial distinctions in time, so it's a good idea to have a black superhero to make sure we get rid of any prejudice and misconceptions.
"The madness of writing is the antidote to true madness." (Hanif Kureishi)

User avatar
Bianka Walter
Previous Member of the Month
Posts: 985
Joined: 10 Feb 2018, 15:22
2018 Reading Goal: 40
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 112
Favorite Book: The Old Man and the Sea
Currently Reading: In a Cottage In a Wood
Bookshelf Size: 322
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-bianka-walter.html
Latest Review: The Ordinary Extraordinary Dog by Andrew Sherriff
Reading Device: B00JG8GOWU

Post by Bianka Walter » 01 Jul 2018, 11:31

cristinaro wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 11:20
Bianka Walter wrote:
01 Jul 2018, 10:30
The fact that Toni is black didn't even register on my radar until this thread. So I obviously felt none of the above.
And I don't think it will for kids either. They just see another kid, it's us adults that notice the colour :)
I guess my cultural conditioning and scholar training are to be blamed for my observations. :) It could be interesting to show the book to a number of children and see what happens. We learn about racial distinctions in time, so it's a good idea to have a black superhero to make sure we get rid of any prejudice and misconceptions.
I totally agree. And you're right, it would be interesting to see how many kids commented on Toni's colour - if any :)
Really interesting question though!
You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
- Dr. Seuss

User avatar
MsTri
Posts: 1040
Joined: 02 Jul 2017, 12:56
2018 Reading Goal: 12
2017 Reading Goal: 0
2018 Reading Goal Completion: 266
Favorite Book: <a href="http://forums.onlinebookclub.org/shelve ... 15362">The Prodigal Son</a>
Currently Reading: A Game of Thrones
Bookshelf Size: 332
Reviewer Page: onlinebookclub.org/reviews/by-mstri.html
Latest Review: Lucifer Son of the Morning by Anthony Dean jr and Bonita Green
Reading Device: B00L89V1AA

Post by MsTri » 01 Jul 2018, 12:16

As a black parent - and now grandparent - it didn't even occur to me that such a comparison could be made. I was focused on the lesson that even superheroes do chores AND enjoy it... In my review, I did mention Tony's color, but I did so as a positive -
I like that the hero in question is a boy of color. In a genre where the superheros have historically been fair-skinned, it's important for little African-American children to see heroes who look like themselves. Since Black Panther is making a splash at the box office, the timing is on-point for our little hero.

Post Reply

Return to “Discuss "Toni the Superhero" by R.D. Base”