Thursday, September 28, 2006

More recommended reading

Still celebrating Banned Books Week. Here are a few more that are always on the American
Library Association's list of most-frequently challenged books.

"James and the Giant Peach" makes book burners madder than the much gorier and disturbing "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Why?
Well, it uses the unforgivable and traumatizing word "ass." An obviously-racist grasshopper says, "I'd rather be fried alive and eaten by a Mexican!", and there are references to snuff, tobacco and whiskey. Some censors object to the fact that it encourages children to disobey adults -- and I say if we're talking about adults like Spiker and Sponge then I say they should be disobeyed.

Shel Silverstein was a genius, no question about it. He was equally skilled at cartooning, music and writing. In the poem "Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony," the title character tells her parents that if they don't buy her a pony, she'll die. Her parents refuse, and she does, in fact, die. Book burners, who were born without a sense of humor, think this encourages suicide. Thank goodness for the judges at the Bedford Central School District in New York. Their verdict: "Silverstein… was apparently intending to be funny." And can't you just see the censors scratching their heads and wondering what that means.

I'm not going to try to pass "Where's Waldo?" off as great literature, but for the Barney the Dinosaur demographic it is a pleasant way to pass the time and sharpen one's visual skills. But the book has been challenged because in one beach scene, a little boy is about to throw water on a sunbathing woman's back -- and (gasp!) her bathing suit top is apparently untied. This seems to me to be a perfect example of someone looking real hard for something to be upset about.
If you've ever dealt with the eyestrain involved in trying to locate that rascally Waldo, you'll know what I mean.

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