Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Banned Book Wednesday

I hate the banning of books. Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in censorship, I do. For instance I don’t believe that the complete guide to Kama Sutra should be in an elementary school. For one thing I wouldn’t want the wee ones to injure themselves attempting new moves on the jungle gym. On the other hand I have a deep seated belief in the freedom of speech. My first banned book memory is a strong one. I loved Shel Silverstein growing up. He was wacky, lovely, strange, and seemed to understand me more than any author I’d read before, I was in complete awe when I first read Where the Sidewalk Ends, I cried my heart out when I discovered “The Giving Tree.” Around 8 or 9 I was over at my aunt’s house (she was the one who had first shown me Shel). I rushed over to her bookcase to get my beloved Sidewalk and it wasn’t there. Baffled I asked her where it was. She has discarded it because apparently it had come to light that Shel had done some work for Playboy. Even my little mind was confused, who cared, I wasn’t reading Playboy, I wasn’t looking at anything bad in Sidewalk, so why would it matter?

My mom later explained to me about banned books and book burning (I almost had an aneurism when I learned of that one). I’d like to thank my very cool mom for being just as outraged at banned books as I was then. In all likelihood it is due to her that I have such a passion for banned books. This isn’t to say that my parents let us read whatever we wanted to. Just the opposite, they scrutinized every book, tape and movie that they could. I think that I watched half as many movies as my friends due to violence, sex, or even politics (my mom didn’t let us watch Mr. Mom because it reinforced the idea that it should be shocking for men to take care of children, don’t ever get her started on that one with her). However, my parents believed that it was up to them, not libraries, schools, or anyone else (except maybe my scary grandma) to tell me what to read or watch. She also was always out there, buying books that the school had banned that she thought I should read, many a Judy Blume and Gary Paulson novel entered into our home that way.

In honor of my mom and all of the banned books out there, I’m starting Banned Book Wednesday. The idea sprung from this article in the Guardian about Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky, which won this year's prestigious Newbery Medal. I haven’t read the book yet but you can believe that I will. I’ll tell you how it is. If you have a banned book that you’d like me to highlight send me your story and maybe I’ll post it. (See, I believe in censorship, I put on my blog what I want to).

Without further ado may I present book one of Banned Book Wednesday:

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

From Booklist Lucky, age 10, lives in tiny Hard Pan, California (population 43), with her dog and the young French woman who is her guardian. With a personality that may remind some readers of Ramona Quimby, Lucky, who is totally contemporary, teeters between bravado--gathering insect specimens, scaring away snakes from the laundry--and fear that her guardian will leave her to return to France. Looking for solace, Lucky eavesdrops on the various 12-step meetings held in Hard Pan (of which there are plenty), hoping to suss out a "higher power" that will see her through her difficulties. Her best friend, Lincoln, is a taciturn boy with a fixation for tying knots; another acquaintance, Miles, seems a tiresome pest until Lucky discovers a secret about his mother. Patron's plotting is as tight as her characters are endearing. Lucky is a true heroine, especially because she's not perfect: she does some cowardly things, but she takes pains to put them to rights. Francisca GoldsmithCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

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