A Minnesota mother’s challenge to Jeff Smith’s Bone series has failed, with a panel from the Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley school district voting 10-1 Tuesday to keep the books in its elementary school libraries.
A committee consisting of parents, teachers and media specialists heard arguments from Ramona DeLay, who wanted the series banned because the fourth volume depicts smoking, drinking and gambling, and from other parents who wanted the book to stay in school libraries. Smith sent a written defense as well.
Bone has won numerous awards and garnered many positive reviews, but here’s the best part: The kids like it.
Rosemount students Spencer Strop, 13, and his fourth-grade brother, Preston, say they agree.
“I didn’t take it in a bad way,” said Preston, who began reading the books when his brother brought them home. “It’s not like anybody got drunk or was doing anything bad with drinking.”
The brothers said the setting of the novel is in a tavern, and some of the characters occasionally smoke a pipe and cigars. Spencer first picked up the novel from the library at Rosemount Middle School.
“We were actually hoping it would stay,” he said.
Said media specialist Melinda Martin, “I respect her right to object to the series, but not for her to censor it for the rest. I feel you would be doing a disservice to our district if you remove this book from our elementary schools.”
Update: Jeff Smith has posted about the decision on his blog and included the entire letter he sent to the review committee.
During his spotlight panel at C2E2, cartoonist Jeff Smith reacted to Friday’s news that a parent in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul is seeking to remove Bone from the school district’s libraries.
“It just broke yesterday; I don’t know anymore about it than you do,” Smith said on Saturday, responding to a question from the audience. “She objected to the gambling, smoking and drinking and the sexiness. I feel sorry for her son. He’s going to be really embarrassed, but you know, not everybody has to like my stuff. That’s fine. But I really can’t go along with this un-American concept of banning books. Let the Nazis do that.”
The parent, Ramona DeLay of Apple Valley, Minnesota, filed a formal request with the school district last month asking that Bone: The Dragonslayer be “withdrawn from all students” because it depicts drinking, smoking, gambling and “sexual situations between characters.”
According to KSTP TV, DeLay is seeking to remove the entire series from the district’s 18 elementary schools; 12 of those schools have at least one volume of Bone available to students.
The district’s Reconsideration Review Committee will meet on April 27 to consider DeLay’s request. The good news is that of the 20 similar cases heard by the committee since the early 1990s, materials were removed from library shelves in just three instances.
A parent in a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, has filed a complaint with the school district objecting to the content in the fourth volume of Jeff Smith’s popular Bone series.
Ramona DeLay of Apple Valley told Sun Newspapers she was “a little shocked” that her son, and elementary-school student, was reading a graphic novel depicting drinking, smoking and gambling. She filed a formal request to the school district on on March 15 asking that the book be “withdrawn from all students.” In the complaint, DeLay also cited “sexual situations between characters.”
The district’s Reconsideration Review Committee will meet on April 27 to consider DeLay’s request.
I’m certainly only guessing, but I imagine this has to be one of the very few times that Smith’s bestselling, and multiple-award-winning, series has been challenged. Tom Spurgeon has additional commentary.
Manga | A 14-year-old middle-schooler in Owosso, Michigan, has been suspended indefinitely after a classmate found a Death Note-inspired note containing the names of two students and times, and turned it over to a teacher. In Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note, the hit manga turned anime and live-action movie franchise, a high school student sets out to rid the world of evil using a supernatural notebook that kills anyone whose name is written in it.
Although the incident with the Owosso student was turned over to police, who forwarded the case to the prosecutor’s office. Police and school officials say they don’t believe the teen intended to harm anyone, and that no one was in danger.
Thank you for joining us for a very special, educational edition of Send Us Your Shelf Porn. Today’s guest is Ohio teacher Chris Peace, who is trying to improve his students’ reading skills by introducing them to comics. He’s even put together a small graphic novel library for them, which you can see in the photo above.
But Chris does a much better job explaining his collection than I ever could, so I’ll let him take over …
Get it? I said “totes” and it’s a tote bag contest! Oh, I slay myself.
Ahem. Anyway, The Strand Bookstore has teamed up with Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Toon Books and the School of Visual Arts to offer the Strand Tote Bag Design Contest. All this month, until March 31, aspiring artists are encouraged to send in their design for famed New York book shop’s next “artist tote bag. Judges for the contest include previous bag designers Art Spiegelman, Adrian Tomine, R. Sikoryak, Françoise Mouly and Steven Heller.
The prizes are pretty impressive. The grand prize winner not only gets to see their art printed on the store’s bag, but also gets: an afternoon with Mouly; D&Q’s complete set of books from 2009; $450 worth of recent Fantagraphics books; a complete set of Toon Books; and more.
Second prize nets you a class at SVA, a collection of signed D&Q books; more comics from TB and Fanta, and a $100 coffee gift card. Third prize is the same, but less so.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to enter by just drawing a couple of stick figures.
Rules and details for the contest can be found at that fifth link. A look at past Strand tote bags can be found here.
The school board in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Monday voted to remove the anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age from middle-school libraries.
The move, spurred by a parent’s complaint that the graphic novel contained foul language, sexual references and depictions of teen smoking, reportedly marks the first time in at least eight years a book has been removed from the student collection. Teachers will continue to have access to the graphic novel, and (curiously?) may use it in class.
According to the Argus Leader, the board’s decision came after a unanimous recommendation from a review committee composed of two teachers, two parents and an assistant principal.
A 2007 anthology published by Penguin’s Viking Children imprint, Stuck in the Middle was edited by Ariel Schrag and contains contributions by Gabrielle Bell, Daniel Clowes, Joe Matt, Dash Shaw, Lauren Weinstein and others.
As the book’s title suggests, the stories focus on the highs and lows of life in seventh and eighth grade, from first loves to first zits. It was selected by the New York Public Library as one of its 2008 Books for the Teen Age.
The committee questioned whether middle-school students possess the maturity to see beyond the “objectionable language” in two or three of the stories and be able to glean a positive message.
In a statement provided to the Argus Leader Schrag said, in part: