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.

#6 I Was Aiming for the Wooden Spoon and Missed . . .

Confessions of a Kindergarten Vampire #6

Single mother of two before she was 22, my mother was what you politely call "strict." A staunch believer in the adage "spare the rod, spoil the child" any  weapon at hand--fly swatter, shoe, yard stick, wooden spoon--served as her "rod" when she was riled. Rather than heed warning and curb our mischievous ways, my brother and I hid the various weapons under the couch and carried on . . .

 While I do remember a repairman pulling out our gold vinyl couch and finding--to my mother's mortification--a grand assortment of "rods" hidden beneath it, I don't recall this episode. But everyone else in the family seems to. And it has always filled me with a sick sort of prideful remourse, so I'll share it here.  

Mother Mary Ellen, 23 and gorgeous! In my defence, she was weilding a wooden spoon

Mother Mary Ellen, 23 and gorgeous! In my defence, she was weilding a wooden spoon

The story goes that one Saturday afternoon, my mother was in the kitchen, whipping up a batch of pancakes, when my brother Joe, then about 3, committed some offense. While she was stirring and reprimanding, I crawled into the room, across the floor, and using her leg to steady myself, pulled up to a standing position, turned my face into her leg, opened wide and bit  down! And, she says, smiled while she cried and hollered for me to let go. . .  

The "I Vant My Vampire Baby" Book Trailer Contest--is NOW!!! 

Here's how: View the Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett book trailer on Youtube. Leave a comment. You're entered to win you're very own authographed copy of the book. It's that easy! 

Here are the Contest Details!  

 

#1 Confessions of a Baby Vampire

In keeping with the contest, daily--from Oct 15 thru 31st, I will post a true confession of a Vampire here on my blog, Kelly's Fishbowl. Please join the fun and share your Vampire Baby anecdotes. Enter the Contest as many times as you like--watch the trailer, post a comment, your entered to win! It's that easy!!!

Confession of a Baby Vampire #1 

I didn't have Vampire fangs. But I was a biter. I bit my big brother, Joe. I bit my mother. And one day, when my grandfather, Poppy, came to pick me up at school, he found my teacher in tears. Why? Because I bit and kicked her... Then I climbed to the top of the monkey bars I wouldn't come down . . .  

Whoops! I didn't mean to hurt her....honest!

Whoops! I didn't mean to hurt her....honest!

The "I Vant My Vampire Baby" Book Trailer Contest--is NOW!!! 

Here's how: View the Vampire Baby by Kelly Bennett book trailer on Youtube. Leave a comment. You're entered to win you're very own authographed copy of the book. It's that easy! 

Here are the Contest Details!  

 

VAMPIRE BABY is here!

Vampire Baby cover-final

Vampire Baby cover-final

Finally...5 years and 12 revisions and I-don't-even-want-to-try-to-count how many Vampire movies, books, blogs after that fabulous title popped into my head Vampire Baby has arrived! Thanks to all of you who laughed when I said the title.) Paul Meisel's art makes it! Available from Candlewick Press and booksellers everywhere!

Here's the blurb:

It happens overnight: "little sister Tootie goes from cuddly, ga-ga-goo-goo, I-want-my-ba-ba baby to...vampire baby." Now she’s sinking her pointy fangs into everything -- furniture, toys, and especially her big brother ("Youch, Tootie! No bite!"). Mom insists that it’s just a phase, but Tootie’s brother knows better. Just look at her hairline! Or the fact that all her favorite foods are bloodred! With perfect comic timing, Kelly Bennett and Paul Meisel give a fresh slant to the new-baby story, proving that even monstrous little arrivals have a funny way of staking their siblings’ affections.

When Tootie gets her first teeth, it’s clear to her big brother that she’s no ordinary baby. But how to convince Mom and Dad?

Warning: VAMPIRE BABY is coming . . .

Tootie has fangs! And she knows how to use them...

It happens overnight: little sister Tootie goes from cuddly, ga-ga-googoo, I-want-my-ba-ba baby to . . .vampire baby. Now she’s sinking her pointy fangs into everything -- furniture, toys, and especially her big brother ("Youch, Tootie! No bite!"). Mom insists that it’s just a phase, but Tootie’s brother knows better. Just look at her hairline! Or the fact that all her favorite foods are red, blood red! . . .

VAMPIRE BABY is fanged, dangerous, and crawling your way this July.