"Scrotum": Panic Ensues
This story is making the rounds, and commenting on it seems to be addictive.
With One Word, Children’s Book Sets Off Uproar
My headline and the gist of the story is, Newbery Award Winner contains the Word “Scrotum”: Panic Ensues.
I haven’t read this book yet, so I’ll try to refrain from specific comments about a book I haven’t read. But, I think we all know how I feel about Newbery books.
According to School Library Journal, a particularly reputable source, the book’s level is 4-6th grade. By this age, kids get the sex talk in school. Anatomy is not a mystery to them. And using the correct term for a not-easy-to-talk-about part of the body seems perfectly acceptable. This is not porn. And, apparently, it’s in reference to a dog being shot, not even a naked person.
On the other hand, I do hate Newbery books on principle. And based on this one passage in the NY Times, it holds one of the characteristics I hate in kids books:
“Scrotum sounded to Lucky like something green that comes up when you have the flu and cough too much,” the book continues. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.”
Dude, since when do kids wax poetic about words? And on a larger scale, what’s up with all the things they don’t understand. I’m so tired of adults writing books where kids fully get the full picture. Seriously, authors need to get a life. That sort of thing only works in comedy. Either the kids understand or they don’t therefore making the readers understand or not.
One particularly egregious passage in another Newbery book has the kid not understanding the sex noises coming out of the parent’s room. It’s never explained. It just hangs. Older readers know what’s up, but the target audience doesn’t. So why put it in? Why not make a book appropriate for your intended age group? And why make your characters dumber than they need to be?
Meanwhile, I’m still curious to read this book. My local libraries don’t have enough copies to go around. I’m not sure if it’s because of the controversy, or the likelihood the books are kept on the new book shelf and someone just grabs it and goes. There’s nothing like free publicity. Judy Blume, one of the top challenged modern authors, knows that. And she’s really good and describing reality for teens (not children).
The NY Times coverage of this is a bit less than correct. First, it lists a blog as an electronic mailing list. And then there’s this:
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
What is that nonsense?! Authors just sneak in words?? Really? There’s not like an editing process where a gajillion people read the book before it’s printed and make changes? The authors themselves sneak into the printing facility and make the changes just before the machine starts spitting out books?
The Times usually has decent coverage of library matters, this article is a travesty. Another travesty, is that one day, if I ever get a job, I might have to deal with crap like this on a daily basis. Bleh!
(now that I've upgraded blogger, I'm tempted to label this post, but I'll refrain for the faint of heart)
This library blogger/YA book reviewer generally has the same tastes that I do. And here's her take on the book after actually reading it. And she had the same concerns that I did about "Oh, isn't it adorable when small children don't know things" and decides it's justified.
But, if that's too reasonable for you, check out scrotum poetry friday