Ban It. Pan It. But Don’t Ignore It.

As we wave farewell to Banned Book Week 2014,  and move into October--the season of the most widely banned holiday of them all, HALLOWEEN,

 I’d like to share what sounds like the start of a joke: I was sitting in the Candlewick Press booth one day when 2 librarians walked up . . .

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

I smiled cheerily, and Vanna White-ish-ly motioned toward the picture book on display. 

“This is my newest book,” I gushed, “Isn’t it adorable!”

"Would you like to take a look at it?"

 “Feel free to take a few NO BITE pins,” I offered.

“A bookmark? Maybe a NO BITE sticker?”

 

 

 

 

The two librarians leaned in for a peek at the cover, then jumped back, shaking their heads.
No, no,” They told me.

“I’m sure it’s very nice,” one offered. “But . . . 

We don’t buy that kind of book.

The book was Vampire Baby, a picture book illustrated by Paul Meisel. The event TLA: Texas Library Association 2013 Annual Conference. 

These weren't the only librarians who hurried past and/or tisk-tisked disapprovingly at Vampire Baby. (I think a few may actually have made a special trip past the booth just so they could cast dispersion.) 

What were they afraid of? That adorable Tootie-Wootie was going to jump off the cover and bite them? That Vampirism was contagious? That children exposed to it might suddenly sprout fangs? Or maybe, horror of horrors, they might actually . . . like it???

While it sounds like a joke, it’s not a laughing matter.

Later, at the Texas Blue Bonnet Award Luncheon, after one table-mate actually squealed with delight when she learned Vampire Baby was mine!—my Rock Star Moment—I learned why Vampire Baby was shunned. That same librarian who had squealed, later apologized because while she would happily be buying copies for herself, her children, and her friends, she could not buy it for her school library. Why?

Turns out the word “Vampire” is taboo in many libraries—school and otherwise. And in school book fairs and clubs, such as Scholastic. So, rather than buying Vampire Baby, rather than reading it, rather than even looking inside, librarians at those institutions ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist. Sound familiar?

It took me back to a long ago Fourth of July Weekend when after sharing a jolly holiday with friends at a cabin they had rented on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, we decided to book ourselves a cabin for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The proprietress happily passed me a registration for to fill out, read as far as my name, then smiled politely as she declined my booking, saying “I’m sure you are very nice people, but you are not our kind of people.”  

Ironic, isn't it, that time of “Inclusivity” and “Celebrating Diversity” Vampire Baby, a teething story, a sibling story, a story of a brother learning to accept his sister’s “differences” and ultimately embrace and defend her, fangs and all, rather than being embraced or challenged,  is ignored.

Frankly, I don’t blame them.  If I were a children’s librarian, I’d probably do the same thing. (Although I’d like to think I wouldn't.) As delightful as Vampire Baby is—and it sooooo is—if  I knew adding it to my library’s picture book collection guaranteed me having to defend it, fill out more paperwork, perhaps pull it from the shelves anyway, I probably wouldn't buy it either. (The tots won’t know the difference. . . ) So much easier to ignore it and hope it goes away…

I wouldn’t be alone in this thinking, it seems. In a Google search of “Banned Picture Books,” the last picture book listed is And Tango Makes Three, published in 2005! 

Does this mean the last offensive to some faction picture book published was 9 years ago????

Of course you can't compare Vampire Baby to And Tango Makes Three . . . 

Of course you can't compare Vampire Baby to And Tango Makes Three . . . 


 . . . Not until you've read IT!

 . . . Not until you've read IT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to Banned Books! And Banning Books!. Being banned is so much better than being ignored.

Do me a favor: Ban it if you must. Pan it if you will. But, first, READ IT! (Or at least listen.)

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the Link to VAMPIRE BABY Author Read-Aloud

If you decide it's offensive, go ahead, BAN IT!  (I double-dog dare you...)

If you decide it’s worthwhile, and you’d like a chance to WIN FREE BOOKS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR LIBRARY, enter the I Vant My Vampire Baby Contest. HERE’S HOW!

The views expressed here are strictly mine. The do not reflect those of Candlewick Press, Paul Meisel, Scholastic Bookfairs or Vampires other than Tootie.