Monday, July 11, 2016

Mandie and the Cherokee Legend - Lois Gladys Leppard

Mandie and the Cherokee Legend
Title: Mandie and the Cherokee Legend
Author: Lois Gladys Leppard
Publication Date: 6/1/83
Pages: 138
Genre: Faith / Historical / Young Adult / Fiction
How I Found It: I loved these books as a child.
Date Completed: 5/21/16

Summary: As Mandie makes the journey to meet her Cherokee relations with her newly discovered family, she stumbles into tensions between tribe members and the implications of an old legend.

What I Thought: As I mentioned when I reread and reviewed the first Mandie book, I adored these books. There are dozens of them and I read them all. I haven't opened their covers since then, though, so when I grabbed them along with several other boxes of my books from my parents' house I thought it might be nice to revisit one of my childhood heroines. I have so enjoyed revisiting Princess Cimorene, this seemed a good idea, too. Samantha Ellis' memoir was apparently inspiring me before I even realized it.

I loved rereading the first book. In so many ways, it felt like home. There were a few little things that bugged me, but, overall, it retained so much of what I loved about the series as a child. The books are short enough that I can fly through one in the course of an afternoon. I picked up this second one on a sunny afternoon when Kevin was working in the yard. He worked; I sat on the deck and read the whole thing. It was lovely.

The book itself, though, did not satisfy me in the same nostalgic way its predecessor had. Instead, I found myself experiencing ethical indigestion. 

Here's the thing: it's very evident that Leppard had no indention of portraying the Cherokee in this book in anything but a good light. In fact, I truly think her work was intended to fight against racism and show different types of people getting along. Instead, I saw so much patronizing of culture and characters. There were so many stereotypes that scratched the chalkboard of my modern worldview. 

In addition to the racial stereotyping issues, I fought again against the gender stereotyping. I remember finding Mandie to be such a strong, powerful heroine in my childhood. As an adult, I wish she'd buck even more against the expectations laid out for her life and behavior. 

The book was written in the early 80s and is set a century before that. While that does not excuse these issues, it does make them slightly more understandable. Leppard was writing at a cultural time when the politically correct culture was still emerging. Again, I'm not excusing what I saw, just putting it in its own historical context.

There was still a lot to like about this. The book is light-hearted and a fun adventure story. I still really liked seeing one of my childhood favorites set in a state that I have come to know and love so much. The importance of faith is a big draw here, too, that I won't forget when I am debating whether to read these with my own children. Mandie never ceases to rely on her faith to get her through tough circumstances. This comes off as a bit cheesy at times, but it's still a great message for young readers. 

The question ahead, then, is my future relationship with the series. I do think I'll still read the series with my kids, but I realize now I'll need to have open discussion with them about some of the content, just as I would when reading Harry Potter or Narnia or any book with them. For now, I think I'll pick up the third book in the series some lazy afternoon and give Mandie another chance. My fond memories are still pulling on my literary heartstrings, hoping these issues were only especially prominent because of the plot of this particular book. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: When I have kids, maybe
Other Books By Lois Gladys Leppard: Mandie and the Secret Tunnel

A Reduced Review: A great children's book in so many ways, expecting for that nagging issue of racial stereotyping.

No comments:

Post a Comment