This is Banned Books
This is Banned Books Week, and this week’s Kids In The Cliff storytime at The Wild Detectives is all about banned books. Parents, you’ll be shocked that these sweet books haven’t always been seen as such.
We’ll start with Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand, which tells the story of a gentle bull. This 1936 classic – beloved by Gandhi and MLK, banned by Franco and Hitler – is a sweet story set in Spain of a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight in bullfights. The book’s animated movie adaptation (Ferdinand) was released this past year.
Next it’s the now-classic Goodnight Moon. Margaret Wise Brown’s little bunny wishing everything in the great green room goodnight was considered to be too much lacking in plot and the teaching of upstanding values for Anne Carrroll Moore, the influential children’s librarian in the New York Public Library. She disapproved of the here-and-now movement from the pioneering Bank School for early development that recognized young children’s central involvement with their immediate environment. She was influential with librarians and educators across the country, and the book that is now widely recognized as many children’s first book didn’t grace the NYPL’s shelves until the 1970s.
For another great animal tale, Tomi Ungerer’s The Mellops Strike Oil from 1958 has been re-editioned by Phaidon in English, along with a number of his others. This exuberant family of pig adventurers go after the black gold this time. One thing leads to another and their quest traps the mother in a forest fire. Adults objected to the depiction of her entrapment, especially the flames licking her clothes. Despite the relatively cute rendering of danger and the fact that she was safe within a couple of sentences, the scene was feared too much for children’s delicate sensibilities. (Most kids find it the most exciting part!) Ungerer was later nearly completely blacklisted as his political and adult artwork became known to the children’s books world, and he returned to Europe. As people have come to appreciate that people can create for more than one audience, he has enjoyed a recent renaissance, seen the opening of a museum in his honor and continues to work into his nineties.
In 1970, seven years after the immense but controversial success of Where The Wild Things Are, the prodigious Maurice Sendak now had released In The Night Kitchen, which was to become one of the all-time most challenged kids’ books. It’s a surreal but kid-friendly dream-tale of a boy helping with baking for the morning. The objections were due to the young child protagonist’s naked depiction on some pages. Many bookstores and libraries refused it, and some even “edited” it or advocated its burning – pity that they missed the references to the Holocaust (which had a large part to play in Sendak’s family life), famously foreshadowed by book burnings. Hats off to editor Ursula Nordstrom for her laudable press statement, with this final sentence:
“… We, as writers, illustrators, publishers, critics, and librarians, deeply concerned with preserving First Amendment freedoms for everyone involved in the process of communicating ideas, vigorously protest this exercise of censorship.”
Want to know about more banned or challenged kid’s books? Classics like these and A Light In The Attic, Harriet The Spy, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret have made the lists for years, as have relative newcomers Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, And Tango Makes Three, Drama, and I Am Jazz. Don’t be surprised if John Oliver’s name appears in this year’s list.
*Special note for parents: As usual, we’ll have related extra books on hand in case you are looking for other excellent picture books we recommend! Particular emphasis is placed on striking illustrations, great graphic design or standout writing. Titles may be brand new, old treasures, from home, our Kids’ Section or the library, but they are always picked with love and a sense of adventure. If there’s a book you’d love, consider our ordering service!
It’ll be about a 45 minute read with something fun for the kids–that’s going to be interesting, we can’t wait to see what they come up with.
All ages are welcome.
On Sunday mornings, bring your kids and infuse them with a love of reading.
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Kids In The Cliff is organized by Lanie DeLay, who has worked at Dallas Contemporary, the Dallas Public Library, Hamon Arts Library at SMU, at area preschools and the School For The Blind in Austin. She has written for Glasstire and Art&Seek, and she tutors children in early reading skills at Dealey Montessori. When she isn’t looking at art or reading with kids, she’s reading about art or looking for a new read.
(Sunday) 11:00 am - 11:45 am
The Wild Detectives
314 W 8th St, Oak Cliff, Dallas