Luna’s Little Library

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Banned Books #7 And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell with Chrissi Reads

Published January 26, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others. This illustrated children’s book fictionalizes the true story of two male penguins who became partners and raised a penguin chick in the Central Park Zoo.

bannedbookslogo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Happy New Year and welcome to a new year of Banned Books that I’m participating in with my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. This is what we’ll be reading for 2015 – the post will go out on the last Monday of each month so if you’d like to read along with us, you are more than welcome.

JANUARY

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (illustrated by Henry Cole)

Chosen by : Chrissi

FEBRUARY

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Chosen by : Beth

MARCH

Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Chosen by : Chrissi

APRIL

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

Chosen by : Beth

MAY

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

Chosen by : Chrissi

JUNE

Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Chosen by : Beth

JULY

Detour for Emmy by Marilyn Reynolds

Chosen by : Chrissi

AUGUST

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Chosen by : Beth

SEPTEMBER

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Chosen by: Chrissi

OCTOBER

Forever by Judy Blume

Chosen by : Beth

NOVEMBER

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Chosen by : Chrissi

DECEMBER

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month….

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (illustrated by Henry Cole)

Chosen by : Chrissi

First published: 2005
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2012 (source)
Chosen by: Chrissi
Reason: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Absolutely not. This was such a sweet story about two penguins that fall in love and happen to be male. It’s a picture book with some beautiful illustrations that I think children will love, especially children who are fond of animals. It was published fairly recently (2005) and in this modern world that we live in, I can’t understand why it could be challenged. Nothing about it is unsuitable or inappropriate.

CHRISSI: No!!! I am really angry that this book has been challenged. I think it is an adorable look at the different family structures that we can have. It is such an important book. I can totally see myself using it in a classroom or with a child that does come from an ‘unconventional’ family.

How about now?

BETH: Definitely not. It could be such an important book for use in schools to teach children that there are more relationships in the world than Mummy/Daddy and that this is normal. Maybe some of the hatred towards homosexuality comes from the fact that these people were taught that it was wrong. If we ban/challenge these books aren’t we automatically sending a message to children that homosexuality is a bad thing?

CHRISSI: It’s educative and supportive. No. Just no.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: I absolutely loved it. I think the fact that it’s based on a true story makes it even cuter. I’m really glad that these penguins were given a chance to sit on an egg and look after their own baby (Tango). Also, I really want to go to New York and see their little family for myself now!

CHRISSI: I was so impressed. It’s so cute and simple and explores homosexuality in such a gentle way for younger children.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Please join us again next month when we’ll be discussing I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

 

Banned Books #6 Lush by Natasha Friend with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published December 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Natasha Friend is a Judy Blume for today — clearly evident in this remarkable new novel about a girl whose father is an alcoholic and how she and her family learn to deal with his condition.

It’s hard to be a 13-year-old girl. But it’s even harder when your father’s a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything — your family’s reactions to things, the people you’re willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it’s something that’s been going on for so long that she’s almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse…

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Welcome to the last book in our Banned Books Challenge where very month for the last six months of 2014, I have been collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library. We have been looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

This month’s book is….

Lush by Natasha Friend

First published: 2007
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2010 (
source)
Chosen by: Bibliobeth
Reason: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited to age group


Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This is such a recent publication (2007) that I’m actually really surprised that it is banned/challenged in schools. Out of all the books we have read so far, this is the one that I really don’t understand the reasons behind it and it confused me so much that I actually had to leaf through the book again to try and work out why there may be problems.
CHRISSI: This is one book that I totally DO NOT see why it was challenged. I’m actually quite annoyed by it being challenged, because I actually see this book as a book that could be used to support teenagers going through the very same thing. It is a story about alcoholism- so of course it’s going to contain reference to that. As for offensive language… pffft. 
LUNA: You know I actually checked to see if there was another Lush by Natasha Friend because seriously are you kidding me? Do I understand any of the reasons – NO. The story is about a 13 year old girl dealing with her father’s alcoholism how can it not contain alcohol and its effects? The offensive language as far as I can figure out is the word “boobs”. I repeat, are you kidding me?!

How about now?

BETH: As I said above, this is a recent release, and not much has changed in seven years, so definitely NO. By banning or challenging it, I think it could be depriving teenagers of a book that could be incredibly useful if they were in a similar situation. There was a sexual scene but I really don’t think it was particularly explicit (You probably get worse on Coronation Street or Eastenders for goodness sake!)
CHRISSI: No. It could be used as a support/understanding/educative book. Just no. 
LUNA: Pfft. Don’t understand why it’s ever been challenged in the first place. I’ve said it so many times but here I go again: Don’t underestimate teenagers.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: I think this is one of my favourite books out of our banned book series. It was a beautiful and emotional rollercoaster of a read as Sam and her family learn to deal with her father’s addiction. The characters were brilliantly realised, I loved our main character Sam and her little brother Luke is too adorable for words. For me, it felt like such an authentic read that I think teenagers in the same situation could relate to the circumstances that Sam finds herself in and benefit from it.
CHRISSI: This book is potentially my favourite out of our banned book series. It contains so many important topics and as I’ve said before, I think it could be incredibly educative/supportive. I was very moved by this story. I loved it!
LUNA: I am so impressed how much of a punch this relatively short book packs. Sam has a lot to contend with, her father has been drinking for a long time but her mother isn’t acknowledging it. Sam’s father is stressed, he needs support and understanding. Sam doesn’t agree and then it comes the night he goes too far.
Natasha Friend really deals with the emotions Sam goes through brilliantly, as the reader you’re with Sam from the very beginning. I loved the friendship she strikes up with AJK. Sam’s relationship with her little brother, how she looks after him. At times my heart just ached. Lush is a great book.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!
LUNA: Absolutely
BETH’s Personal Star Rating:
 four-stars_0
I’ve really enjoyed our Banned Books Challenge this year so thanks to Chrissi Reads and Luna for making the process so fun. Next year Chrissi Reads and I will be back with more Banned Books and we’re hoping Luna may be able to drop in from time to time. Wishing everyone a very happy 2015!
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Banned Books #5 – Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published November 24, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“If you don’t put that ring on this minute, I’m going to take it back,” Annie whispered in my ear. She leaned back, looking at me, her hands still on my shoulders, her eyes shining softly at me and snow falling, melting, on her nose. “Buon Natale,” she whispered, “amore mio.”

“Merry Christmas, my love,” I answered.

From the moment Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she knows there is something special between them. But Liza never knew falling in love could be so wonderful… or so confusing.

bannedbooks

 

Welcome to a new feature on my blog! It’s Banned Books that I’m collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library on.

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Luna’s Little Library and myself will be reading one Banned/Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

If you’d like to join in our discussion (and please feel free!) below is a list of what we’ll be reading:

December

Lush by Natasha Friend

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month….

Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden

First published: 1982
In the 100 most frequently challenged books: 1990–1999 (source)
Chosen by: Luna’s Little Library
Reason: Homosexuality
 

Do you understand or agree with any of the reason for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: Not at all. Perhaps in the early eighties homosexuality wasn’t quite as accepted as it is nowadays (although there are still some nasty bigots out there) but I think this is a great book to show that there’s nothing seedy or wrong about two girls being in love. There are no graphic scenes or bad language, nothing really to warrant banning although I’m not sure how teachers would see it if they had to teach it to a class of sniggering students.
CHRISSI: No. There’s nothing particularly graphic in this book, it really is just a book about two people in love. It just so happens  that they are the same sex. That said, I can somewhat understand why teachers would shy away from it. Not because it’s an explicit story, but because there could be so many homophobic behaviours displayed during the reading of it. It would take a strong and good teacher to challenge them. I do hope there are some out there because I think homophobia should be addressed so that we can become more tolerant.
LUNA: No. For the purpose of our Banned Books Discussion I read Annie on My Mind again, this time going over it with a fine tooth-comb to see if there was anything that could be classed and explicit or graphic. There isn’t.  Two people met and fall in love. They’re both female. That is the reason this book was banned, challenged and burned! Yes you read that right, burned – 1993 in Kansas City. (source)
I don’t get it. I will never get it and for that I am really grateful because it’s a load of nonsense. There I’ve said it. You love someone because of who they are not because of their gender or race. Teaching understanding and tolerance would get us so much further.
Because it’s one of the reasons that Liza is judged and also because I think it’s still one of the reasons Annie on My Mind and LGBT books are challenged (recently The Miseducation of Cameron Post was removed from a reading list) I’m going to look a bit closer at the below scene/quote:
“…It’s – it’s so disgusting.”
[Cont. further down the same page.]
“…Read your Bible, Liza. Ms Baxter showed me it’s even mentioned there. Read Leviticus, read Romans 1:26.”
I don’t know what I said then. Maybe I didn’t say anything. I’m not sure I was able to think any more.
I do remember, though, that I went home and read Leviticus and Romans, and cried again.
Annie on My Mind, page 194

 
Ok then… Earlier this year I read a brilliant book called This Book is Gay by James Dawson. It has a very helpful chapter which deals religion. So let’s get to more quoting:

 “The Bible has been translated and interpreted many, many times. We can’t be one hundred per cent certain what the original even said… / Even the various modern version of the Bible are different, so how can one possibly take it all literally?
Contexts change. The bible repeatedly refers to going after taxmen – who at the time were crooked. You don’t hear about Christians chasing HMRC* with flaming torches, do you?
… Jesus said precisely NOTHING on the subject. As we know, Jesus taught nothing but love and tolerance.

*HMRC is like the IRS in US

Specifically on Leviticus:
Leviticus is mean as a list of instructions…. / anyone throwing that bit of Leviticus your way should also be prepared to:

·        Sell their daughter to slavery
·        Never make any physical contact with a woman on her period
·        Burn bulls
·        Never eat shellfish (also an abomination, so BEWARE THE PRAWN)
·        Never trim the hair around their head. This is forbidden.

Point made.
And:
“It’s not a negative. Don’t you know that it’s love you’re talking about? You’re talking about how I feel about another human being and how she feels about me…”
Annie on My Mind, page 222
 
How about now?
BETH: Well why not? The physical part of Liza and Annie’s relationship is handled very delicately – I think the most graphic part is where the word “breast” is mentioned (Oh no! Call the police!!) Apologies for my sarcasm, but I see no valid reason for this book to be banned.
CHRISSI: I hope there’s more tolerance now, but sadly I believe it probably still would be challenged in schools. 
LUNA: “Don’t let ignorance win,” said Ms Stevenson. “Let love.”
Annie on My Mind, page 232


What did you think of the book?
BETH: It was a sweet love story that showed that a relationship between two people of the same sex is NORMAL. I think it would be a great book for teenagers unsure of their sexuality or out and proud!
CHRISSI: I enjoyed it. I hadn’t read it before, so I’m glad I did! 
LUNA: I’ve lost count of how often I’ve read Annie on My Mind now but it’s been a lot. It’s still one of my favourite books.

Liza’s teachers, Ms Widmer and Ms Stevenson, are the adult parallel of what Liza and Annie wish to be and (while infuriating) their ending only makes the story more real.

I really really love this book because it is a wonderful, beautifully written story that makes you fall in love.


Would WE recommend it?
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Yes! 
LUNA: Love this book so much! YES. (Sunshine Star)

Beth’s personal star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

This book definitely raised some good issues for discussion (I’m still trying to stop laughing over Luna’s BEWARE THE PRAWN comment!). Let us know what you think and join us again on the last Monday of December when we’ll be discussing my Banned Book choice, Lush by Natasha Friend.

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Banned Books #3 – The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published September 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

bannedbooks

 

Welcome to a new feature on my blog! It’s Banned Books that I’m collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library on.

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Luna’s Little Library and myself will be reading one Banned/Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

If you’d like to join in our discussion (and please feel free!) below is a list of what we’ll be reading:

October

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”)

Chosen by: Chrissi

November

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Chosen by: Luna

December

Lush by Natasha Friend

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month……

The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

First published: 1st January 2007
Still in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2013 (source)
Chosen by: Bibliobeth
Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
What did WE think?:
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: I didn’t think this book had as many strong reasons for being banned as the other two books, but there are always going to be some topics that people want to steer clear of. I was thinking about this while reading the book and if I was a teacher I would definitely like to teach this book in class. I wouldn’t mind so much the swearing or the racism, because I think it has important messages. And then we come to the masturbation bit… oh dear… I think if I had to deal with this in a classroom I’m not so certain I could be adult enough myself to deal with it without becoming a tittering mess. But that’s just me!
CHRISSI: I don’t think this book is as controversial as the previous books that we’ve read. Of course, there are elements of it that are quite controversial considering that it is young people we are thinking about. Yet, I don’t think we should necessarily shy away from these books. They have their place, we just need to use them sensitively. I know for a teacher it must be hard to approach these subjects. Especially in this book’s case, racism.
LUNA: For a change I’m not going to get on my soapbox, I’ve already done that in the last two banned book discussions (HEREand HERE) and I’m just repeating myself.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian contains swearing, Arnold talks about masturbation; there is alcoholism, violence, death and racism. It’s a tough book and it doesn’t sugar-coat or shy away from that. My personal opinion is that this is a good thing. Books are an excellent way for people to get talking about these subjects.
I do appreciate that taken out of context certain pages of this book might make parents/guardians balk at the text but why not read the whole book and then about think about why it makes them uncomfortable? Given peers, TV and internet how likely is it that this content is going to be new/shocking?
How about now?
BETH: This book is still fairly recent (published 2007), so I don’t think the world has changed that much since then. I would love to see this book taught in schools, but I know that I personally couldn’t do it.
CHRISSI: I can understand why it’s tough to teach it, but I don’t agree with it being banned. Once again, as I’ve mentioned in previous discussions…it’ll take a strong teacher to attempt to teach this book, but I hope that there are some out there.
LUNA: See my previous answer and sorry but I am going to repeat my favourite sentence: Don’t underestimate teenagers!
What did you think of the book?
BETH: I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, I loved Junior as a character and I think the things that he has to deal with – racism, violence, alcoholism, death in the family, bullying… I could go on and on, are important issues to highlight to teenagers, a lot of whom might be going through the exact same thing and might bring them some sort of comfort whilst providing a laugh or two. I also really enjoyed the way the cartoons were used throughout the book to illustrate what Junior was feeling.
CHRISSI: I liked it! It was quick and easy to read and very memorable!
LUNA: I really liked The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Junior is an excellent narrator and the illustrations are great. For a relatively short book it really packs a punch. There are a lot of moments that stayed with me long after I finished reading; the class walk-out, Junior’s sister, the conversation Junior has with his teacher at the beginning – just to name a few.
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!
LUNA: Absolutely
Beth’s personal star rating (out of 5):
3-5-stars
Once again, this proved to be a great book for discussion and I really enjoyed hearing what Chrissi and Luna had to say. Join us on the last Monday of October where we will be discussing Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”) chosen by Chrissi.
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Banned Books #2 – The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published August 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“The heroine’s transformation into someone who finds her own style and speaks her own mind is believable — and worthy of applause.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that’s before a shocking phone call — and a horrifying allegation — about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humor and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

bannedbooks

 

Welcome to a new feature on my blog! It’s Banned Books that I’m collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library on.

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Luna’s Little Library and myself will be reading one Banned/Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

If you’d like to join in our discussion (and please feel free!) below is a list of what we’ll be reading:

September

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Chosen by: Beth

October

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”)

Chosen by: Chrissi

November

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Chosen by: Luna

December

Lush by Natasha Friend

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month….

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
First published: 1st January 2003
Most recently in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2009 (
source)
Chosen by: Luna’s Little Library
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
 What did WE think?:
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged originally?
BETH: Okay, so the reasons for it being challenged originally is the offensive language, it being sexually explicit and unsuited to the age group. Some things I kind of agree with, some I don’t. I don’t really remember instances of very offensive language to be honest so I don’t agree on that level. After all, teenagers may hear more foul things in the streets or on television (or maybe in their own homes?) than what is written in this novel! And as for it being unsuited to the age group I completely disagree with this. Some teenagers read at a more mature level, others at a more immature one and you can’t really put everyone into a nice neat little box and tell them what they should be reading and at what age. 
CHRISSI: I somewhat understand why it’s challenged. This isn’t necessarily to do with me agreeing that the content should be challenged. It’s a tough one. I DO think that teenagers need to be reading about this sort of thing and I completely support that. However, I think it has to be a very brave teacher that takes on this book. Not because it’s ‘bad’ but mainly because I can imagine parents would get very uptight about their children reading about these issues. I think Luna’s right, we do underestimate teenagers. They can read this material. They should! But should they in school? That’s where I begin to wonder. I think if I was about to train to be a secondary/high school teacher instead of a primary school teacher, then I’d definitely recommend this book to my class. Would I read it with my class? No. I’d be scared of the reaction from parents. That’s a wimpy way of looking at it, but I wonder if parents are part of the problem with books like these. Can we as educators, suggest books for teenagers to  read in their own time to get around this problem? Perhaps.
LUNA: I have this feeling I’m going to be permanently moving into the NO Camp for the all books we read (you can read my previous rant here) but upon finishing The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things I thought: “Are you kidding me?”
1) “offensive language” – There is one scene where Virginia’s brother swears at her and yes is real swearing but it’s completely within context. Be it in 2003 or now I promise you that teens will have heard and used that word themselves. They’ll probably know a lot more.
2) “sexually explicit” – *sighs* I wasn’t sure which part of the story this was referring to but regardless it just made me roll my eyes. Either it’s the beginning of the book when Virginia and Froggy are making out and she’s talking about her ‘bra’ and shock horror the word ‘nipples’ is used or it’s to do with what her brother Bryon does.
SPOILER ALERT Virginia’s older brother is suspended from university following a date-rape allegation which is upheld. The rape happened butthis is Virginia’s story so as the reader you know of it but you never actually read about the experience. Carolyn Mackler doesn’t include a first person account from the victim.
3)  “unsuited to age group” – shall we just pretend I gave you the long version of Don’t underestimate teenagers! Yes? Excellent. Moving on…
 
How about now?
BETH: This book has a relatively recent publication date (2009) and I don’t think things have changed much in the past few years but I think regardless of what year it was published my opinions would still be the same. I do think this book should be read by teenagers, especially those that may pick on someone slightly larger than average. (Hey, what’s average anyway?) But should it be taught in schools? Quick and easy answer to this one… I don’t think so. I think I have valid points to back this up though. Virginia shares with the reader some of her diet tips, like drinking a lot of water to feel fuller so you don’t eat so much and puts pictures of skinny girls on the fridge for “thinspiration.” Now, do we really want to be reading these kind of things to vulnerable kids that may feel they need to lose some weight?! And yes we might not give a lot of credit to how sensible teenagers can be etc but there only needs to be one that is slightly more naive or less worldly and BANG – welcome to eating disorder city. 
CHRISSI: Again, like Luna… see my answer above. I really wish we could read more contemporary books in schools. I think the problem with contemporary books is that they seem much more explicit compared to the classics. The classics do deal with issues as well, but I guess in some ways they don’t seem as relevant to teenagers as contemporary reads do. I think it’s a good thing that there’s relatable literature out there for teenagers.
LUNA: *pfft* see above answer and yes I said this for Perks but we’re already teaching classic literature that deals with the same themes in schools.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is on the GCSE reading list in the UK (source) and taught in the US. It’s strongly implied that the monster rapes Frankstein’s wife on their wedding night. While not nearly as frequent as Frankstein I did still find Tess of the D’Urbervilles as recommend reading for High Schoolers and despite the fact that Thomas Hardy is ambiguous on purpose the general opinion is that Alec rapes Tess.
I’m repeating myself but if we’re already dealing with the reasons The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things was challenged in “classic” literature (that are being taught in schools) then why is this a problem for a modern book?
Romeo and Juliet has teenage sex, plenty of violence and suicide. Shakespeare is pretty graphic so why is that ok but not a book written in the last fifteen years? Somebody explain this to me because I just don’t get it.  
What did you think of the book?
BETH: Despite my earlier rant I do think this is a good young adult read. Virginia is a likeable character that I think teenagers will love and I hope that they will take home all the positive messages in the novel, of which there were plenty.
CHRISSI: I thought it was a decent read! I haven’t read anything by this author before, but I felt like she dealt with the issues really well with a relatable, likeable character.
LUNA: I really liked The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things. I previously read The Future of Us and loved it.
Virginia is such a relatable character, especially for me. I thought that Carolyn Mackler handled the issue of weight/self-confidence really well. Even though her parents fail at the beginning there is character growth (be it small steps) for them and it was good that Virginia has positive adult influences, Dr Love and her teacher for example.
I went through a lot of emotions while reading this book: sympathy, heartache, joy, rage, hope, etc. but the overriding feeling was that of pride for Virginia – you girl are awesome. 🙂
 
Would WE recommend it?
BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!
LUNA: Absolutely
BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):
3 Star Rating Clip Art
This was a great book for discussion, and I’m really glad I read it and as always, really enjoyed the opinions of my partners in crime Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library. But what do you think? Have you read it? Should it be banned/challenged? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Join us again on the last Monday of September when we’ll be discussing my choice of banned books – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.
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Banned Books #1 – The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published July 28, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“I walk around the school hallways and look at the people. I look at the teachers and wonder why they’re here. Not in a mean way. In a curious way. It’s like looking at all the students and wondering who’s had their heart broken that day…or wondering who did the heart breaking and wondering why.”

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But Charlie can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

bannedbooks

Welcome to a new feature on my blog! It’s Banned Books that I’m collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library on.

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Luna’s Little Library and myself will be reading one Banned/Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

If you’d like to join in our discussion (and please feel free!) below is a list of what we’ll be reading:

August

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Chosen by: Luna

September

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Chosen by: Beth

October

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (as “Anonymous”)

Chosen by: Chrissi

November

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Chosen by: Luna

December

Lush by Natasha Friend

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month….

JULY

 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

First published: 1st February 1999

Still in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2013 (Source: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10)

Chosen by: Chrissi

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking/homosexuality/sexually explicit/unsuited to age group

So, what did WE think?:

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: The book was published in 1999 and it’s fair to say that by that time we were a much more open society about things like drugs and sexuality, especially things that were shown in the media at that time for example the increased sexual content in music videos etc. However, I can also see why at that time it was challenged as the book does tend to stray into risky territory with a lot of potentially taboo issues. I think if at that time I had been studying it for English GCSE, I would have been fairly shocked – not by the content, but that the school was “brave” enough to be allowing us to study it!
CHRISSI: I completely understand why it would be challenged when it was originally published. The way I see it is that it deals with some very intense issues. If you’re using it at a school… even from 14+ , it’s a very touchy subject to actually teach. I completely understand that teenagers need to know about these issues, but in a way, I think a book like The Perks Of Being A Wallflower isn’t the best educational tool.
LUNA: Ahm… actually no. When the book was first published I was 14, nearly 15 – so the audience for this novel. While The Perks of Being a Wallflower does have a lot of “issues” none of them, in my opinion, are explored in any great detail. They just get a surface mention. Yes there is some swearing and yes I accept that drugs, abuse (physical and/or sexual) are though subjects but the book doesn’t really go into them. It’s certainly not anywhere near as graphic as I expected given that Perks is still in the top 10 of challenged books in 2013. Thinking of my teenage self and what I knew from my peers, TV and also what I was reading I would not have been shocked.
How about now?
 
BETH: I’m really not sure! I think it would take a strong person to challenge the current curriculum and bring in books that may deal with darker issues like Perks. I honesty can’t imagine any teacher standing in front of a class and talking about Charlie’s discovery of masturbation or the scene in which he watches a couple participate in some (ahem!) sexual acts. Saying that, it would be terrific if the curriculum included some books that were a bit risky, even just to test the water. I think also that schools have to be careful to respect parents wishes, and some children may be brought up with certain beliefs, religious issues that may be easily offended by books such as this. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why a safe middle ground is chosen?
CHRISSI: I don’t think my views have changed that much. From working in education, I can see why teacher’s would find this difficult to use as a teaching tool. However, I do think it’s important that children learn about the issues that Perks covers in a sensitive manner. I’m just not sure that Perks is the right piece of literature for it. I also imagine the parents would kick up all sorts of fuss about it. With the movie being fairly new out, perhaps it will become more acceptable in time.
LUNA: Still no. Ignoring what I’ve previously there are two main reasons why challenging/banning The Perks of Being a Wallflower makes no sense to me.
1) The reasons “drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group” are already represented the books being thought, both in the UK and the US. I spend quite a bit of time researching the reading list for GCSE (UK) and High School (US) and while they didn’t always match some authors kept reappearing: William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, William Golding just to name a few.
Classic Literature is full of unhealthy relationships, sex, violence and drug abuse. Sherlock Holmes probably the most famous drug user that comes to mind.
Shakespeare’s plays cover pretty much everything ‘reason’ The Perks of Being a Wallflower was challenged. Romeo and Juliet has teenage sex, plenty of violence and suicide. For unhealthy relationship (you could probably argue that Romeo and Juliet belong in there) there is an abundance of choice. How about Othello? Jealous husbands strangles his wife. For cross-dressing and gay themes: Twelfth Night. (Btw I don’t agree that “homosexuality” should ever be a reason for challenging/banning a book. That’s a whole different rant…)
My point is that the difference between those books and The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the language. They are classics and taught throughout schools yet because Perks is modern it’s challenged? Shakespeare is pretty graphic so why is that ok but a modern book dealing with similar themes worse?
2) I think that grown-ups have a tendency to underestimate teenagers. They are young adults, not children. There is still growing to do but pushing stuff aside won’t make it not be there. Books are a great door to discussion. While I’m sure that there will be giggles during Charlie’s ‘I’ve discovered masturbation letter’ that will be the minority. I believe much more of the time will be spent talking about the important issues in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and books like this.
 
What did you think of the book?
BETH: I went into this book with no expectations as when it was first published I mis-judged it without knowing what the story was about. After reading it and reflecting on it, I thought I was going to enjoy it more when I first started, but thought it was a really interesting read about the perils we all face when becoming an adult. I loved Charlie’s voice in the novel and enjoyed that it was written in the form of letters as it was nice to read something a bit different.
CHRISSI: I didn’t like it as much as when I read it the first time. I mean, it’s an easy enough read, but I don’t exactly ‘get’ why it has the hype it does. In a way, reading it as a few years later… I feel it’s trying to shock the reader with all of the issues.
LUNA: Despite my impassioned argument for why I don’t agree with the reasons Perks being banned/challenged I actually didn’t enjoy reading the book. It took me nearly two weeks of stop and start to get through it, which is unheard of.
I think I had much too high expectations going in and because none of the issues were really explored in detail I felt rather let down. Shockingly I preferred the film.
Would WE recommend it?:
BETH: Yes, I think I would. I think because of the issues it deals with it will remain a book that people will still be talking about in twenty years time.
CHRISSI: Yes. I do think it’s a book that everyone should at least try at one point in their lives. Even if it’s just to say they’ve read it.
LUNA: Not sure. I think there are many books that deal with the subjects so much better.
BETH’s personal Star Rating (out of 5):
3-5-stars
So, some different opinions from us, which is good! I really enjoyed the views from both Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library and thought they both brought some valid and interesting points to the discussion. But what do you think? Have you read it? Should it still be challenged/banned in schools?
Join us the last Monday of August where we will be discussing Luna’s choice: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler.
bannedbooks

Say Her Name – James Dawson

Published June 4, 2014 by bibliobeth

18621200

What’s it all about?:

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before… A truly spine-chilling yet witty horror from shortlisted ‘Queen of Teen’ author James Dawson.

What did I think?:

This was the first book of James Dawson’s that I read although I know he is becoming very popular in the Young Adult sector, and now I can see why! Many thanks must go to Lunas Little Library for kindly letting me read an advance copy of this great Young Adult thriller. Say Her Name has all the classic elements of the Point Horror fiction that I used to devour as a teenager – we have a boarding school, a bit of romance and a spooky game to invoke the ghost of Bloody Mary which funnily enough, I used to play also at my own boarding school. Unlike the teenagers in this story however, I was never able to complete the game before fleeing the bathroom with terrified squeals and was so petrified that same evening that my house-mistress had to come in and say a prayer for me. Oh dear. While spending a bookish holiday with Luna and my sister Chrissi Reads, she also made us watch the infamous Supernatural Bloody Mary episode which was also completely terrifying but which I do recommend.

Our main character in this novel is Roberta/Bobbie Rowe who is spending Halloween evening with a few friends from the school and several local boys telling ghost stories and generally trying to scare each other as you do at that age! Then the party descends into a game of dares where they encourage each other to play “Bloody Mary,” with only candles for light in the schools bathrooms. Bobbie definitely does not want to lose face, especially in front of cute local boy Caine who she has a bit of a crush on so agrees to the game and is one of the few teenagers who is able to complete saying her name five times. Nothing seems to happen until the next day when Bobbie finds a chilling message on her bathroom mirror – “FIVE DAYS.” It then becomes a race against time for Bobbie, her best friend Naya and Caine to explore the strange and frightening events that happen to each teenager both present and in the past that have evoked the ghost of Bloody Mary. Five days really isn’t a long time to try and solve the mystery of who exactly Bloody Mary was and why she continues to haunt everyone who ever says her name and it is also becoming exceedingly more dangerous for Bobbie as the power of Mary seems to becoming stronger and more frightening.

It’s really brilliant to read a story about a childhood game that I used to participate in myself and James Dawson elegantly weaves a chilling yet completely gripping tale that I literally couldn’t put down. Actually, I think the prologue might be one of the creepiest things I have ever read and that is in comparison to some adult horror fiction! I had to vet this book before my sister Chrissi Reads read it as this kind of thing really freaks her out (she ALSO played the Bloody Mary game at school), and after just the prologue I was raising my eyebrows, unsure if she could take it (sorry Chrissi!). Luckily like me she read it and loved it so that was a relief. The characters were beautifully drawn and both authentic and appealing to young adults in my opinion and the action and drama sequences just kept coming. With a James Dawson book I’ve realised I’m never bored or disappointed and I can’t wait to see what comes next!

For Chrissi’s review of Say Her Name, please check it out HERE and for Luna’s Little Librarys thoughts please click HERE.

Say Her Name is published on June 5h by Hot Key Books so what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0