Everybody loves a winner, and when it comes to the stories we enjoy, all we see are stories of winners. On the surface I guess it makes sense, we invest our emotions in a character, and we follow their journey, through every obstacle and failure, in the end, we want to be uplifted mostly. We want to see that win, we want to glorify it. And yes that applies to picture books.
But what does it mean to lose then? If the only stories worth telling in our society, are stories of winners? Accepting defeat isn’t just a reflection of the moment, but accepting an inferior identity and some people, clearly, just can’t handle it.
The more I think about it, the more nefarious the whole thing becomes, the ‘chosen one’, the ‘hero’s myth’, it’s all wrapped up in patriarchal white supremacy. There is only room for one person at the top.
White men see themselves as the heroes of their own stories, and so it’s not over until they win. Because isn’t that how the stories go?
There are so many pieces of this narrative that we need to change, in every book, and honestly I think including BIPOC representation in the stories that are coming out just scratches just the surface. Because clearly, the narrative and values themselves need to change.
One facet of this is accepting a loser’s journey as equally valid, being able to accept loss gracefully, to not be the chosen one, and to still be decent and gracious has value.
Many reviewers have been asked to recommend books about losing graciously recently, and I just plum can’t think of a single one, can you?