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Yankee Thunder: The Legendary Life of Davy Crockett

August 17, 2021 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley tagged as , ,

Today is Davy Crockett’s birthday.

Almost everyone over a certain age will now start singing the Disney Theme song and imagining Fess Parker in a coonskin cap, but not me. Oh, I pass the age test, but I have a book that belonged to my mother, titled YANKEE THUNDER: The Legendary Life of Davy Crockett. That depiction of Davy Crockett wins out over the TV show for me, but not without a bit of sadness.

Yankee Thunder

Written by Irwin Shapiro with pictures by James Daugherty, it was a fixture of my childhood. In the book Davy is born man-sized, weighing in at two hundred pounds and fourteen ounces. To feed him, his parents plant him in the ground and water him with wild buffalo’s milk mixed with boiled corn cobs and tobacco leaves.

He grows so big that by chapter four his family must whittle him down to man-size. Out on adventures, Davy finds two unusual pets, a bear named Death Hug, and a buffalo called Mississip.

As much fun as all this is, unfortunately, I would never recommend the book today, especially not for children. While the book shows Davy Crockett as sympathetic towards native people, native people themselves are characterized in the most bigoted and stereotypical way.

I hope we have learned in the 78 years since Yankee Thunder was published not to use negative and hurtful stereotypes in our writing. I’d like to think our stories can be recommended without reservation.

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