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Two graphic novels, Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Craig Thompson’s Habibi, were among the 10 most frequently challenged books last year in U.S. public schools and libraries, according to the American Library Association.
The annual findings of the organization’s Office of Intellectual Freedom were released Monday to help kick off National Library Week.
Libraries | Michael Cavna talks to Drama creator Raina Telgemeier and Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund about graphic novel challenges in libraries and why Drama made the American Library Association’s 2014 list of 10 most challenged books. [The Washington Post]
Political cartoons | The East African cartoonist Gado has been let go from the Kenyan newspaper The Nation, apparently due to pressure from the government. The move came after the newspaper’s owner met with President Uhuru Kenyatta, who’s been pushing the publication to drop some its contributors critical of his government. Gado’s cartoons about various scandals, and his depictions of the president as a prisoner with a ball and chain and as a turbaned Sikh (following an attempted land grab that involved four entrepreneurs named Singh) have clearly hit a nerve. [Spy Ghana] Continue Reading »
The Young Adult Library Services Association has announced its 2015 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, a list of 79 titles that range from biography and humor to science fiction and superheroes.
The finalists were selected by a committee from among 108 official nominations recommended for readers ages 12 to 18. From those 79 titles, 10 were singled out as exemplifying “the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences.” They are:
CeCe Bell’s graphic memoir El Deafo today earned a prestigious Newbery Honor for outstanding contribution to children’s literature, while Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer became the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor and only the second to be recognized with a Printz Honor.
The awards were announced this morning by the American Library Association at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
This year’s pairing of Banned Books Week and comics, with considerable input from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, was pure genius. While it is sponsored by a number of organizations, Banned Books Week is heavily supported by libraries, and librarians have been among the most ardent boosters of graphic novels in the last ten years.
In fact, Banned Books Week is really all about libraries, and to a lesser extent, schools. The days of government censorship in the form of prohibiting publication, import, or sale of a book for offensive content are long gone. Nowadays, “banned books” really refers to books that someone wants to remove from a public library or a school. Often, those attempts are unsuccessful because the library in question has a solid acquisition policy and a process for handling challenges, which is how it should be. Libraries buy books for a reason, and they shouldn’t take them off the shelves without a better reason.
Many public library challenges have a similar narrative: Kid checks a book out of the library, mom finds the book and freaks out, mom goes to the library, or the press, and demands the book and all others like it be removed from circulation. When the proper process is followed, a committee of professionals reviews the book and makes a decision, and you and I seldom hear about it; it’s when someone goes to a public meeting and starts yelling and waving a book that things go haywire. That’s what happened in South Carolina, where the a mother let her daughter check out Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, which the library had correctly shelved as an adult book, then was shocked to discover it had sex in it. In this case, the library review committee recommended that the book remain on the shelves but the library director overruled them.
This is Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of all the books that someone, somewhere, thought was objectionable — which usually means they make good reading. This year, the focus is on comics and graphic novels, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is working with the other sponsors, including the American Library Association, to produce a number of resources for librarians and others, including a Banned Books Week Handbook; the organization has also posted a handy list of Banned Book Week events across the country (including this panel discussion, which I’ll be part of).
Library Card Sign-up Month kicked off Monday, with Stan Lee serving as its honorary chair.
An annual campaign of the American Library Association, it’s intended to remind parents, educators and children that a library card is an important tool to academic success. Lee’s image appears in print and online in public service announcements containing the quote, “The smartest card in my wallet? It’s a library card.”
“When you have a library card it’s like having a key to all the information in the world,” the 91-year-old creator says in a video (below). “When you have a library card, you can read anything about anything, and I have found that whatever you read, it doesn’t matter, it increases your fund of knowledge. So a library card is the ‘Open Sesame’ to all the knowledge in the world.”
In the video, Lee recalls as a child being a frequent visitor to public libraries first in Manhattan and then in the Bronx because he couldn’t afford to buy all the books he wanted to read. “Without libraries, I just wouldn’t have read as much as I did, so it would’ve been a great loss, to me,” he says.
Passings | Frank Cummings, an artist for the comic strip Blondie, has died at age 55, according to a posting on Blondie.com. No cause of death is given, but this obituary (in Italian) states he had a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Cummings started his career as a commercial artist and self-published his own satire magazine, JAB. Later on he illustrated the newsletter of diet and exercise guru Richard Simmons and did movie parodies for Cracked. He joined Blondie in 2004 as an assistant to head artist John Marshall. [The Daily Cartoonist]
Publishing | Former DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz has debuted an “occasional” column on the retail news and analysis site ICv2. [ICv2.com]
This year’s Banned Books Week, slated for Sept. 21-27, will spotlight comics and graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Banned Books Week planning committee announced today. Graphic novels have been the subject of a number of library and school challenges over the past few years, and the American Library Association’s most recent list of frequently challenged books includes, incredibly, Jeff Smith’s Bone.
Comics and graphic novels are somewhat more vulnerable to challenges because of their visual nature: While one would actually have to read To Kill a Mockingbird or The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian to find potentially offensive content, all a would-be guardian of morality has to do with comics is flip one open and leaf through the pages looking for Naughty Bits. That’s apparently what happened when the Chicago Public Schools attempted to remove Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis from classrooms; the move was based on a few panels taken out of context.
Bone, Jeff Smith’s critically acclaimed fantasy adventure about three cousins swept up in epic populated by dragons, rat creatures and evil forces, was among the books most frequently challenged last year in schools and libraries.
The news comes from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, which has released its annual Top 10 List of Frequently Challenged Books as part of National Library Week. In 2013, the organization received 307 reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from library bookshelves and school curricula across the United States. That’s down from 464 official challenges in 2012.
Bone came in at No. 10 on the list, which was led once again by Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series and populated by the likes of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eyes and Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (see the full rundown below). The last comic to make the list was Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Earth in 2011.
The ALA’s 2014 State of American Libraries Report doesn’t cite specific challenges to Bone or reveal how many there have been, but it does offer broad reasons for the objections: “political viewpoint, racism, violence.”
Although the challenges last year apparently failed to attract media attention, there was a good deal of coverage of complaint filed in 2010 by a parent in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, objecting to the depictions of drinking, smoking, gambling and sexual situations in Bone. However, a school district committee voted 10-1 to keep the books on library shelves. (There’s a Comic Book Legal Defense Fund case study, if you’re interested.)
The Young Adult Library Association has announced its 2014 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, a list of 78 titles that range from history and autobiography to superheroes and mystery.
The finalists were selected by a committee from among 122 nominees recommended for readers ages 12 to 18. From those 55 titles, 10 were singled out for exemplifying “the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences.”
The Over the Rainbow Project, sponsored by the ALA’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table, announced its 2014 book list, containing works recommended for adults that “exhibit commendable literary quality and significant LGBT content.” Six titles were selected in the Graphic Narrative category:
The Rainbow Project, a joint committee of the GLBT Round Table and the Social Responsibilities Round Table, highlighted five graphic novels on its list of graphic novels for teens:
Awards | March: Book One, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell, was honored this morning at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia with the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. Other youth media winners include: Lucy Knisley’s Relish, the Alex Award as one of the 10 best adult books that appeal to teens; Chip Kidd’s Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design, a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults; and Brian Selznick, recipient of the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award. [press release]
Passings | One of Fiji’s best-known cartoonists, Laisiasa Naulumatua, was remembered by his former editor as someone who relied on humor rather than venom to make his point. A number of former government officials, including a former prime minister, came to pay their respects to the cartoonist, who used the pen name Lai, at his funeral on Saturday. [The Fiji Times]
As the title suggests, the 28-year-old campaign features celebrities, ranging from Bill Cosby (who appeared on the very first poster) and Bill Gates to Oprah Winfrey and the stars of The Hunger Games, with books in an effort to encourage reading. Watchmen star Jeffrey Dean Morgan previously appeared with a copy of the Alan Moore-Dave Gibbons book, while Hugh Jackman was shown with … The Man in the Moon.
Here’s the text accompanying the Cavill poster on the ALA website: “Born in the United Kingdom, actor Henry Cavill has already made quite an impact in both film and television. Henry made his feature film debut in The Count of Monte Cristo and went on to star in Tristan & Isolde, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works and, most recently, as Theseus in Immortals. On the small screen, Henry appeared on the Showtime series “The Tudors” for four seasons. This summer, audiences will see Henry star in Man of Steel when it flies into theaters on June 14. In preparation for this epic role, Henry delved deep into original source material, reading hundreds of Superman comics.”
Available for $16, the 22-inch by 34-inch poster is featured on the cover of the ALA Graphics summer catalog, arriving this week. Director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opens June 14.
The Young Adult Library Association has unveiled the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens, a list of 55 titles that cover the spectrum from biography and mythology to superheroes and science fiction.
The finalists were selected by a committee from among 98 nominees recommended for readers ages 12 to 18. From those 55 titles, 10 were singled out for exemplifying “the quality and range of graphic novels appropriate for teen audiences.” The are:
“What do superheroes, serial killers and the stage crew have in common? They all have a place on the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens list,” chair Rachael Myers said in a statement. “There is a graphic novel on this list for every teen reader and we think this is a valuable resource for teens and the librarians who work with them.”
You can see the full list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens on the American Library Association website.