Ban My Book…Please!!!

So proud to find Tom Birdseye's hysterical book on the list! Write on, Tom!

So proud to find Tom Birdseye's hysterical book on the list! Write on, Tom!

It’s hump day of Banned Book week. Yes, I know, traditionally “Hump Day” is Wednesday. But that’s based on a 5-day work week. I moved Hump Day to the 4.5th day for those of us who follow a 7-day/every-day work week). That settled, back to my rant. . I’ve been known to jest, “Ban my book, please…” (Especially after Vampire Baby and Not Norman were published.)

As the saying goes, “Most truth is said in jest.” True. But I wasn’t kidding. And I’m not now, either. With both of those books, Vampire Baby especially, what I found happened is that rather than buying and then banning it, parents, grandparents & librarians—yes librarians—school, public and private—ignore it, avoid it, don’t touch it, or read it… Ignore it and it will go away, they think and do.

In the case of Vampire Baby, I was told it was because vampires are “taboo subjects” in many schools. At library/educator conventions, including TLA and IRA, I tried to explain to passing browsers how Vampire Baby isn’t really about a vampire. I tried to get the librarian or teacher to see for themselves: “Look at it! Touch it! Read for yourself, you’ll see…” They’d shake their heads or walk on by.

As for Not Norman, a Goldfish Story: Now it’s hugely popular & timely! People—adults, children, librarians—take one look at that adorable brown face peeking through the fishbowl with a goldfish for a nose and want to scoop it up. But back in 2005, when Not Norman was published, that was not the case.

 

I’d be at events & book signings, and many browsers, even “friends” who’d bought every other book I’d written offhand, skirted right past.

After all, that brown boy didn’t look anything like their children, grandchildren, students… Even still today this may happen. I can’t say for sure because I’ve banned those places.

Is being officially “Banned” bad? Yes. No one else should be able to take away our right to choose what we read.

…and No. At least. to be banned, someone has to care enough, be passionate enough, committed enough to go through all the trouble it takes to have a book officially banned. Truthfully, selfishly, I’d rather my book be banned than ignored…

Books can be dangerous objects—under their influence, people start to wonder, dream, and think.
— NYPL Banned Book Quiz

However, This is Banned Book Week! and so:

In honor of all those individuals and institution that went to all the time, trouble and expense—I’m talking hours and hours, sometimes years of trouble, People!—to get a book banned, let’s:

READ! READ! READ! All the BANNED BOOKS!

Here, courtesy of ALA is a list of the Most Frequently Challenged Children’s Books: 

And, to challenge your knowledge of banned and challenged books, the NYPL Banned Book Quiz

Happy reading! 

Ban My Book…Please!!! Playlist:

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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.