Our Children and Other Animals – Unlearning Our Concept of Animals

Posted by Michael Drapper, Marketing Executive

This article originally appeared on Ruby Roth’s We Don’t Eat Animals blog. Ruby’s three illustrated children’s books, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals, Vegan is Love and V is for Vegan, are discussed in Matthew Cole and Kate Stewart’s Our Children and Other Animals. You can read Ruby’s full article here.

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I am boggled and honored to have my children’s books academically analyzed by two university lecturers, Matthew Cole and Kate Stewart.  Their book, Our Children and Other Animals: The Cultural Construction of Human-Animal Relations in Childhood, includes quite a discussion of my work—the imagery and representation of animals, my illustration techniques, compositions—how they all help young readers conceptualize their relation to animals. I’ve taken many art history courses and have always been leery of my teachers’ analyses of artworks. As an artist, myself, and having drawers full of unfinished work I’d never want anyone to see, I imagine that maybe even Degas would have scoffed at the heavy meaning assigned to any one of his works—maybe a painting he would’ve wanted to throw in the garbage. Having my work in the hot seat, though, I have to say, Cole and Stewart shocked me with their accuracy. I was stunned at the clarity with which they perceived not only my intentional illustrative strategies, but subconscious decisions, too.

They captured emotions I felt while painting these books, unspoken messages I wanted to relay to my potential young readers, and they beautifully articulated many of the underlying, tacit motives for designing the book as I did—from the animals’ eyes to the composition of racing animals running to an implied, but invisible end.

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If you love sociology and the study of veganism, too, this academic book is a fascinating look at how we come to relate to animals and what we need to address in order to change the status quo. It’ll exercise your mind and help you discuss veganism even more intelligently with others, too. Especially kids.

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Our children and other animalsOur Children and Other Animals focusses on the socialization of the human use of other animals as resources in contemporary Western society. The book explores the cultural reproduction of human-nonhuman animal relations in childhood with close attention to the dominant practices through which children encounter animals and mainstream representations of animals in children’s culture – whether in terms of the selective exposure of children to animals as ‘pets’ or as food in the home or in school, or the representation of animals in mass media and social media. As such Our Children and Other Animals reveals the interconnectedness of studies of childhood, culture and human-animal relations.

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