The picture book Ice in the Jungle (Child’s Play-International) is the story of a polar bear family that emigrates to the jungle. There, a young bear named Ice must learn a new language and find her way in a culture very different from her own. Author/illustrator Ariane Hofmann-Maniyar created the book to honor her in-laws, who welcomed her into their Indian home. Since the book’s 2015 publication in the UK and distribution in the U.S., classrooms on both sides of the Atlantic have used the story to talk about immigration, welcoming, and belonging with PreK and elementary-aged children.
While the character “Ice” resonates with readers and champions empathy for immigrant children, a U.S. agency of the same name, ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) started making worldwide headlines in 2018 for removing parents from immigrant households and pulling families apart at the US/Mexico border.
“Child’s Play is appalled by the separation of families in the US at the hands of ICE,” says the publisher’s UK president Neil Burden, “Feeling as if our character’s name might frighten the very children we were seeking to comfort and welcome, we are removing all copies of Ice in the Jungle from our shelves in the United States. We are instead releasing the new bilingual book, Nieve en la Jungla/Snow in the Jungle. The character Snow, or Nieve, will tell the same story but in a way that honors bilingual communities in America.”
I’m Your Neighbor Books, an organization that helps schools and libraries welcome immigrants with children’s literature, responded enthusiastically to the announcement of the changes.“This is no insignificant action by the British publisher,” said Executive Director Kirsten Cappy. “Ice in the Jungle has been central to our school outreach, but we became increasingly worried as Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the DHS stepped outside of all ethical boundaries of refugee management and made ‘ICE’ a terrifying word for families. We thank Child’s Play for such a bold step to say ‘no’ to detention and ‘yes’ to bilingual welcoming. While ICE policy may change as administrations change, the word ICE will forever be associated with child detention.”
Immigrant Families Together Foundation, an organization dedicated to reuniting and supporting immigrant families separated at the US/Mexico border, also responded to the title change. “Reading books may not seem like the most direct way to fight anti-immigrant policies like child separation, but stories change us,” said Julie Schwietert Collazo, the Executive Director and the author of The Book of Rosy: A Mother’s Story of Separation at the Border. “If schools (and the books they use) are not working to change our perceptions of immigration, then I will have to do this work for the remainder of my life and so will generations after me. Yes, we can read to welcome. Let’s not raise another generation to accept family separation and children in cages.”
Nieve en la Jungla/Snow in the Jungle, translated by Yanitzia Canetti, released as an 8×8 paperback edition (ISBN: 978-1-78628-515-7) on 12/1/20 and a hardcover (978-1-78628-594-2) will follow on 4/1/21.