Archive | October 2012

There’s a Storm Coming, Mr. Wayne

To my fellow New Englanders, and the New Yorkers and East Coast folks out there, I hope you are all weathering the storm somewhere safe and dry (even if you can’t read this for a week).

If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people without power tonight, I hope you are out of harm’s way, preferably with a storm candle or flashlight and a good book. Stay safe out there, everyone.


Banned Books to Read in the Dark

Instant childhood, just add covers and a flashlight.

Instant childhood, just add covers and a flashlight.

Happy Halloween, all! Continuing with this month’s theme is a review of Scary Stories. Enjoy!

THE DEFENDANT: Scary Stories (series), Alvin Schwartz

THE VERDICT: Scary Stories has been banned in many US schools and libraries. It came in at #1 on the ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged Books List in the 90s and #7 in the 00s. When HarperCollins put out a 30th anniversary addition, the original, iconic illustrations were replaced with tamer, more child-friendly ones (see link below), likely due to controversy the illustrations and the book have courted.

THE CHARGES: According to the ALA, the Scary Stories series is banned for occult/satanic content, violence, issues over religious viewpoint, and the disturbing nature of the illustrations.

THE REVIEW: What can be said about Scary Stories? Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones are just that: scary stories, complete with unsettling and memorable illustrations. Some are funny, some are gruesome, some are eerie.

Read More…

Parents, You Choose the Scare


The Goosebumps I stole from my big brother’s stash…

Happy almost Halloween, folks! To get you in the mood, I’m doing a review of that campy classic, Goosebumps, which this year turns twenty years old! I call for a Goosebumps margarita party next year. Who’s with me? For more on the series, see the official Goosebumps website.

THE DEFENDANT: Goosebumps (series), R. L. Stine

THE VERDICT: Goosebumps books are no stranger to the ALA’s Most Frequently Challenged Books List, coming in at #15 in the 90s and #94 in the 00s.

THE CHARGES: Some school districts took issue with the content of individual books, some with the entire series. The reasons for banning the books vary from them being too frightening for children to dealing with complex relationships or teenage conflicts to their alleged satanic/occult content. Some have even gone so far as to accuse Goosebumps of being a gateway drug to “more graphic and perverse books“. You know how it is, you’re at a sleepover, someone starts passing around the Goosebumps, next thing you know you’re strung out on Stephen King and smuggling Anne Rice novels across the border in exchange for some primo uncut Poe.

Read More…

A Shireling’s Tale by Pam Hopkins

So, it has yet to be banned, but my friend and fellow Shireling (Hampshire alum), Pam Hopkins, has written a fabulously quirky book, Every Good Boy Deserves A Favor. I’ve worked with Pam in writing workshops and she has one of the most unique and entertaining voices I’ve heard. Read More…

Blessed Are the Forgetful

THE DEFENDANT: The Giver, Lois Lowry

THE VERDICT: Banned or challenged in multiple US schools. It ranked 11th on the ALA’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books List: 1990-1999.

THE CHARGES: As stated above, The Giver has been banned or challenged numerous times throughout the past two decades, largely due to the troubling themes and references to human sexuality. Articles by Marshall University Libraries, USA Today, and the ALA all mention parents’ discomfort with the book’s inclusion or discussion of euthanasia, infanticide, suicide, adolescent sexual awakenings, and medicating children/tweens/adults. The ambiguity of the ending has also been an issue.

Read More…

Graphic Content

An interesting article on George R. R. Martin, Banned Books Week, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Please read and enjoy. I wonder why it is that comics and graphic novels always seem to be singled out for attack, even more than regular books are. Discuss?

Bards Behind Bars

Hey, folks! I hope you’ve been enjoying Banned Books Week! There are read-outs in bookstores across America, the Virtual Read-Out is going strong, and about half the blogs I follow have dedicated some post to the matter. Once again, it’s also Friday and that means it’s FridayReads, where people share what they’re reading every Friday to promote literacy.

I’ve been reading The Harp of the Grey Rose. It’s Charles de Lint’s first book and it shows, but, despite his green pen and the 80s influence, already this man has promise. It seems Charles de Lint has divined everything I love and each page is an attempt to seduce me. Read More…

If You Can’t Take the Heat, Get Out of the Library

It’s the second day of Banned Books Week! Huzzah! It’s also the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week. That’s longer than most marriages, so give them a hand.

What is Banned Books Week, you ask. What does it have to do with you? How can you get involved? Why do I keep harping on about it? Well, because I am a bard and I shall harp all I like, thank you.

Terrible puns aside, Banned Books Week raises awareness about censorship in the United States. For more information on Banned Books Week and to find a list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011 Read More…