In case you haven’t heard, this week is Banned Books Week! Hooray! To get into the spirit of things, I read oft-challenged YA classic Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, by Chris Crutcher, and reviewed it over at Nisaba Be Praised.
To make a long story short: it’s very much an Issue Book, but very well-written and balanced, and not too heavy-handed. I was nervous that potential fat-hate in the book would turn me off, but all in all I think the main character is a good example of the HAES approach and this is a book that kids should read and that shouldn’t be banned. Then again, I’m not really the kind of person who thinks any book should really be banned full-stop. Free speech, it is nice.
I picked Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes at semi-random from the list of books challenged or banned in 2010-2011 provided by the ALA; I’d heard of it before and it’s been on my TBR list for a while, so I figured now would be as good a time as any. There were some books I was really surprised to see on the list, though; particularly, The Egypt Games, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, which is listed on the 2009-2010 challenged list because a student’s father in Wichita Falls, TX, decided that the Egyptian worship rituals depicted in the book are really about “evil gods and black magic.” Which makes me want to be like, “Uh, guy–this isn’t ‘I don’t want to be Elfstar any more,’ this is kids using their imagination to engage with the past!” (Not that Chick Tracts are any less ridiculous, but that seems to be the world this guy lives in.) But, you know, different strokes. Or it would be different strokes if the father privately kept his son from reading about “evil gods” instead of making his mind up that this optional book on the reading list was inappropriate for any and all fourth-graders in the entire school district. Le sigh.
After my review, I provided links to some resources if you’re interested in more information about book challenges and bannings, and Banned Books Week in general, but definitely pop over to the ALA site if you want to know more.