Is the cat in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat black? Is presenting images of enslaved people smiling ever appropriate in children’s literature? What is the impact of personifying a bad mood in blackface in a picture book?

Cara Byrne, a lecturer in the Department of English and the research advisor on diverse children’s literature for the Schubert Center for Child Studies, will discuss images in children’s picture books and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Movement in an upcoming Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities Faculty Work-in-Progress talk.

Byrne will explore recent controversies surrounding picture books for young readers, including The Bad Mood and the Stick, A Birthday Cake for George Washington and Islandborn.

She will analyze how the current #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement both advocates for increased representation of children of diverse racial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and encourages a deeper understanding of how illustrative art possesses its own complex ties to racist tropes in children’s literature.

Byrne’s talk, titled “Why Black not Blue? Revising & Reimagining Children’s Picture Books in the Age of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks Movement,” will be held Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 4:30 to 5:30 in Clark Hall, Room 206.

Register for Byrne’s talk.