Posts Tagged ‘banned books’

Banned Books Week 2017: Eleanor and Park

Title: Eleanor and Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Challenged in: Yamhill-Carlton school district, Oregon; Chesterfield County, Virginia
Because of: “pornographic” content and “vile, vile, nasty language”

This book deals with some hard topics: bullying, poverty, and child abuse. I can see why some people might find it hard to read. Most of the story is about two “outsider” teens bonding over music and comics, trying to get away from these problems, or at least not think about them for a while. Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic author, and I love how her characters always feel very authentic, even the bad ones, unfortunately. I hate that anyone has to go through a childhood like Eleanor’s, but I know that some do, which is why I think books like this are so important. Both for victims to find hope and for their peers to maybe gain some understanding of what others might face and gain some perspective and empathy.

Plus, when reading up on the Oregon challenge, I found that apparently some of the challengers were reading and objecting to fanfic of the book instead of the text from the book itself. Perfect.

Previously: Make Something Up

Banned Books Week 2017: Make Something Up

Title: Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Challenged In: A SECRET
Because of: profanity, sexual explicitness, being “disgusting and all around offensive”

Confession: I checked this book out but couldn’t finish it. Not because of how ~scandalous~ it was, but because I find Chuck Palahniuk’s writing to be really tiresome. I’ve tried to read another of his books and had the same reaction. His whole deal is for you to find him SHOCKING and it’s pretty clear to me that he puts more effort into that than character development or plot. So yeah, all those allegations in the challenge are true, and that’s what Chuck Palahniuk wants. Obviously a lot of people want it too, since he’s a best-selling author, and since none of his books are shelved in the children’s section, I don’t see what people are complaining about. If you don’t like his books, don’t read them. Which I guess I could say about every book that gets challenged.

Previously: Big Hard Sex Criminals
Next: Eleanor and Park

Banned Books Week 2017: Big Hard Sex Criminals

This cover pretty much says it all

This cover pretty much says it all

Title: Big Hard Sex Criminals
Author: Matt Fraction
Challenged In: It’s a secret, apparently
Because of: Sexually explicit

Sex is a plot point in this comic, so obvs it’s going to involve sex. The two main characters have the rare ability to stop time after an orgasm. They end up trying to use their powers to rob a bank and are apprehended by the TIME STOP COPS lol. It’s kind of ridiculous and silly, and I think if it were a normal book instead of a graphic novel, it wouldn’t be on this list. It’s shelved in the adult section (see the back cover above), but graphic novels always get more grief than regular ones because ~the children could just open it up and see a penis~. So maybe watch your children in the library instead of trying to tell the rest of us what to do.

Previously: George
Next: Make Something Up

Banned Books Week 2017: George

George by Alex Gino

George by Alex Gino

Title: George
Author: Alex Gino
Challenged in:
Because: transgender child, “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”

I read this book when it first came out in 2015. It’s short and sweet and reminded me a lot of I Am Jazz, but for chapter book readers. George really wants to be called Melissa (being deadnamed by the title of your own book is probably my major beef here) and dreams of playing Charlotte in her school play. Her supportive best friend helps her practice lines, borrow clothes she feels more comfortable in, and decide on a game plan for how to deal with their teacher and classmates. So another book challenged because some people can’t get over the fact that trans people exist. I feel sorry for their children.

Previously: This One Summer
Next: Big Hard Sex Criminals

Banned Books Week 2017: This One Summer

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Title: This One Summer
Author: Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Challenged in: Henning, Minnesota; Seminole County, Florida
Because: includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit with mature themes, drug use, profanity

I really liked this graphic novel the first time I read it in 2015, when I gave it five stars. Here’s what I wrote about it in my 2015: The Good post:

This was a graphic novel about a girl teetering between child and adult and her summer at her parents’ beach cabin, where they go every year. It’s really telling how her interactions with their normal family traditions and friends are changing as she grows up. Plus the art style was pretty.

Since then, it’s won a Printz award and a Caldecott Honor. I think the Caldecott is where it’s gotten into trouble, because those things are usually dished out to picture books since it’s an award primarily based on illustrations. But, surprise! This book is made of illustrations, so it is completely eligible and totally deserving of any award. But inattentive parents and librarians have really gotten used to Caldecott=great for my 6-year-old, and this book is not for that age group. The main character is 13, and the story so perfectly captures how it feels to be 13. Things she used to enjoy as a kid seem stupid, but adult conversations are boring and/or frightening. Sometimes you just want to dance around your living room eating marshmallows. Other times you want to prove your maturity by watching the scariest movie possible. And, of course, older teens hold an inherent fascination. The main character and her best friend spend a lot of the summer spying on them, which is where a lot of the “inappropriate content” comes in. One of the older girls is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.

Graphic novels seem to get challenged at a higher rate because it’s one thing to read about something and picture it in your imagination; it’s another to see a picture of it when you’re just glancing through. But, with this book, nothing graphic at all is ever shown, only discussed. This book’s detractors seem to think that 13-year-olds don’t know what sex is or are too young to know about pregnancy and suicide, as if keeping these issues secret will make them go away. But they’re not secret, and the more they’re talked about the less likely they are to happen. As to the other charges:

LGBT character: one of the girls has a lesbian aunt omfg call the police
Drug use: some sketchy teens smoke behind the convenience store; mom and dad drink wine, call the 18th amendment
Profanity: your 13-year-old knows the word Fuck. Come the fuck on.

Previously: Drama
Next: George

Banned Books Week 2017: Drama

Title: Drama
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Challenged in: Mount Pleasant, Texas
Because: includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit, offensive political viewpoint

This graphic novel is about a seventh grade girl named Callie who’s on the stage crew of her middle school drama club. She also has a crush on a cute boy, but he later reveals that he’s gay. She builds a cool cannon that shoots confetti for the show, and attends the 8th grade dance. It’s pretty slice-of-life and even a little bit banal. The illustrations are super cute, though, and I like Callie’s passion for set design. It’s shelved in our teen section because the main character is in 7th grade, but apparently Scholastic recommends it for ages 8 and up, judging from a lot of one star reviews on Amazon about how MY CHILD IS TOO YOUNG TO KNOW ABOUT THIS. I assume they mean kissing since that’s as ~explicit~ as this book gets. I also assume the same parent was scandalized at the end of any fairy tale and tells her kid that sleeping beauty was awoken by the prince clearing his throat loudly.

This is "sexually explicit"?

This is “sexually explicit”?

Plus at least the two or three kisses in this book are consensual. Which is more than you can say for a lot of fairy tales, actually.

Naturally, the real reason this book was challenged is because it posits a middle school where gay people exist and they’re treated like anyone else. What an “offensive political viewpoint”.

Previously: 2017 Banned Books Week
Next: This One Summer

Banned Books Week 2017

Happy Banned Books Week! Here’s the list of books that were most frequently challenged in 2016! I’ll be posting about the ones I haven’t read this week.

1. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, sexually explicit with mature themes

2. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Reasons: LGBT characters, sexually explicit, and offensive political viewpoint

3. George by Alex Gino
Reasons: transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”

4. I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints

5. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Reasons: cover has an image of two boys kissing, sexually explicit LGBT content

6. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Reasons: a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”

7. Big Hard Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction
Reasons: Sexually explicit

8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
Reasons: profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive”

9. Little Bill series by Bill Cosby
Reasons: oh you KNOW why

10. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Reason: offensive language

This year, 50% are books for teens and 30% for children. Fifty percent are illustrated in some way (either graphic novels or picture books).

Get pumped for ~illicit reading~

Banned Books: Two Boys Kissing


Title: Two Boys Kissing
Author: David Levithan
Challenged in: Fauquier County public high school library, VA
Because: homosexuality, condones public displays of affection

I was wary starting this book given my previous disagreements with David Levithan. Luckily this book was okay. It’s narrated by the collective “we” that is the chorus of gay men two generations ago, who died of AIDs and lived in fear. They’re looking on from the grave at the current generation of gay teens with compassion. It’s a narrative choice that I thought would work really well in a short story but not so much in a novel. Then at the end I found out–surprise! Levithan wrote this book to expand on a short story he’d done, kind of cramming in the plot around the conceit. That’s why it reads so disjointed. The plot itself I enjoyed: it follows different gay teens for a few days, two of whom are trying to break the world record for longest kiss. It showed the variety of experiences, like accepting and supportive parents, angry and denying parents, or parents who are just whatever. One of the boys was also transgender, which was cool. Levithan also doesn’t shy away from the negativity that is a very real part of being a gay teen today. Even if it’s better than when his collective narrator lived, it’s still here: bullying, abuse, isolation, self-hatred, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicide. Even though he includes these aspects, he also doesn’t dwell on them, making the book uplifting and hopeful over all. In the end, this book is expressly not for me, so it doesn’t matter what I thought of the narrative choices.

As to the complaints, homosexuality and public displays of affection are what this book is all about, so if you hate either of those, you probably won’t like this book. But not liking something and trying to save the rest of us who don’t share your beliefs from it are two different things.

Previously: I Am Jazz

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