Tuesday, February 20, 2007

An Absence of Scrota -- your guide to quality literature...

In the latter half of March I am going to be in Germany, France and Poland, doing readings and signings and things. Details to come very soon.


So normally my love for librarians is unconditional, but recently I find myself inserting a sort of a "but..." in there. In this case it's "But I wish some of them didn't have such a problem with dog's scrotums... or do I mean scrota?"

Then again, I'm English, a country in which "the dog's bollocks" is an expression of approbation and unconditional approval.

There's a book with a dog getting bitten on the scrotum by a rattlesnake in it. It's called The Higher Power of Lucky and is by Susan Patron. It just won the Newbery Award.

According to the New York Times,

“I think it’s a good case of an author not realizing her audience,” said Frederick Muller, a librarian at Halsted Middle School in Newton, N.J. “If I were a third- or fourth-grade teacher, I wouldn’t want to have to explain that.”

Authors of children’s books sometimes sneak in a single touchy word or paragraph, leaving librarians to choose whether to ban an entire book over one offending phrase.

In the case of “Lucky,” some of them take no chances. Wendy Stoll, a librarian at Smyrna Elementary in Louisville, Ky., wrote on the LM_Net mailing list that she would not stock the book. Andrea Koch, the librarian at French Road Elementary School in Brighton, N.Y., said she anticipated angry calls from parents if she ordered it. “I don’t think our teachers, or myself, want to do that vocabulary lesson,” she said in an interview. One librarian who responded to Ms. Nilsson’s posting on LM_Net said only: “Sad to say, I didn’t order it for either of my schools, based on ‘the word.’

and it concludes...

Ms. Nilsson, reached at Sunnyside Elementary School in Durango, Colo., said she had heard from dozens of librarians who agreed with her stance. “I don’t want to start an issue about censorship,” she said. “But you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature.”

leaving me wondering what tmen's genitalia have to do with a dog's bollocks, and whether the lady in question has actually read the book she's trying to stamp out.

I've decided that librarians who would decline to have a Newbery book in their libraries because they don't like the word scrotum are probably not real librarians (whom I still love unconditionally). I think they're rogue librarians who have gone over to the dark side.

Still, I'm glad that there's finally a solid rule of thumb guide to what's quality literature and what isn't.

Helpfully, over at you will find a list of books for the young, probably already in the libraries, with scrota (or even scrotums) in them. This is probably provided for rogue librarians who now need to hunt these books down and remove them, scrotums and all.


Hey, is that Jane Goldman as in the-woman-Jonathan-Ross-is-lucky-enough-to-be-married-to Jane Goldman?Fancy that. Many new connections are thus revealed...

Same Jane. It's a small world.

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