Love Review: Banned Books Week Edition

At little junkies, we want to set you up with the best of the best so you’ll never be lonely. This week stop (!) in the name of love, and check out a good book:

Be a filter, not a sponge.

Name: The written word.
Alias(s):  Book/Magazine/Article/Newspaper/Encyclopedia/Letter/Journal
Occupation: Educating/Entertaining/Enlightening/Inspiring/Challenging/Supporting
Residence: Libraries/Schools/Bookstores/The Internet/My Bookshelves/Pretty Much Everywhere

In honor of the last day of Banned Books Week our “Love Connection” and “Retro Review”  have joined together and had a beautiful baby “Love Review”.  While the name may seem like it came straight out of an US Weekly celebrity baby cover story, BBW has really reminded us just how much we love to read and where that love came from.

Growing up my mom always encouraged me, and my sisters, to read.  She instilled in us that if you could read, you could do anything.  I don’t recall my mother ever being too worried about what we were reading.  I had great freedom in the books I chose to read.  Later on in life, after reading The Perks of Being A Wallflower, I would realize that was because our parents had taught us to be a filter, not a sponge, as we go through the world.

When I was a small child, you would often find an enormous stack of books on the floor across from the hall cupboard, and me lounging inside said cupboard with a pillow, blanket, tape-player, flashlight, and a stack of books I deemed worthy to stay with me for the day.  Although I grew too big for the cupboard, I never grew out of my love for spending the day with a good book.  The end of my bed was always littered with stacks of library books from Dr. Seuss to the Berenstain Bears. Weekends were often spent with my mom or grandma at the library or bookstore searching for the rare never read Babysitters Club book (I was no Matilda as a child 🙂 or scanning through the encyclopedia for whatever caught my eye.  Summer breaks were often spent biking to the the library by myself, searching for the next world to escape into.

Through the years I’ve read to escape into fantasy worlds and spend the day with friends, I’ve read to learn all I could about whatever I could, I’ve read to be challenged, and I’ve read to see into another’s mind and world.  When I first discovered BBW, and that people were still challenging books to be banned, I decided to read to discover just what about these books was so powerful that it would result in fear and (what I view as) extreme action.

The ASL provides a list on their website of the ten most challenged books for the past 7 years.  When doing prep work for this week’s theme I realized that the bulk of the most challenged books are either young adult, juvenile or children’s titles.  I took to my local library to see just how many of the most challenged books were in fact carried by my county.  Bypassing the catalog computers I charged the stacks with my list and was disappointed to find only 3 books I was hoping to review for the blog.  Based on the size of my book list the realist in me felt the odds were pretty low that the books were carried, but just happened to be checked out.

I quickly learned pessimism never pays off, as I discovered that not only does my library carry every band book, but almost every library in my county held at least one copy of each book I needed.   Either a lot of people were preparing for BBW, or the books being challenged are incredibly popular!  I checked out what I could and requested the rest.

Unfortunately for me, and this post, the books didn’t arrive at my library until this past Wednesday – which left very little time to read.  I had hoped to be able to review what I was able to read in time for this post, but alas life, as it usually does, got in the way of my plans.  Since many of these books have appeared on the top ten most challenged list for multiple years, I guess I’ll be a little more then prepared for next years BBW.

Below you will find the books that I’ll be reading for the next few weeks, along with synopsis’s and links to any reviews I could find.  Have you or your children read any of the books listed below?  If you’re a teacher or librarian have you ever had someone challenge any of the books?

A great big THANK YOU to my local library for happily carrying/acquiring each and every one of these books!

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
    • Reasons for banning:  anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, sexism, and unsuited to Age Group
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families.  But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.
  2. Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
    • Reasons for banning: offensive language, sexually explicit
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  Martha Boyle and Olive Barstow could have been friends.  But they weren’t – and now all that is left are eerie connections between two girls who were in the same grade at school and who both kept the same secret without knowing it.  Now Martha can’t stop thinking about Olive.  A family summer on Cape Cod should help banish those thoughts; instead, they seep in everywhere.  And this years Martha’s routine at her beloved grandmother’s house is complicated by the Manning boys.  Jimmy, Tate, Todd, Luke, and Leo.  But especially Jimmy.  What if, what if, what if, what if? The world can change in a minute.
  3. TTYL, by Lauren Myracle
    • Reasons for banning: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  Told entirely in instant messages, this smart, funny novel is about the humor ;), hangovers, :O, and heartaches :{ of high school, and the friendships that get your through it all.  On the first day of tenth grade, best friends Maddie (mad maddie), Angela (SnowAngel), and Zoe (zoegirl) vow not to let school stupidness get them down…or split them apart.  But as the weeks pass and the instant messages accumulate, it’s clear that tenth grade will be a roller coaster ride of boy temptation, math torture, donut emergencies, and Queen Bee encounters.  Then a jerky boy sends peppy Angela into the dumbs, tough Maddie makes a mistake and that has the whole school talking, and good girl Zoe gets in over her head with a flirty teacher.  Will the winsome threesome make it through the year?
  4. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    • Reasons for banning: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  Welcome to New Your City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play and sleep – sometimes with each other. Enter the scandalous world of Gossip Girl – a world inhabited by the city’s most fabulous  crowd; a world of jealousy, betrayal, and naughty pictures on the sides of buses. …S is back from boarding school.  Her hair is longer, paler.  Her blue eyes have that deep mysteriousness of kept secrets…  If we aren’t careful, S is going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, eat the last olive, spill Campari on our rugs, steal our brothers’ and our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely.  I’ll be watching all of us.  It’s going to be a wild and wicked year.  I can smell it.  Love, gossip girl
  5. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    • Reasons for banning: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
    • Reviews & A Letter from a librarian in response to a parent’s challenge
    • Synopsis:  When her favorite uncle, Bobby, announces that he is getting married to his boyfriend, Jamie, Chloe worries that he won’t have time for her anymore. The characters are all guinea pigs in human dress, and the sweet, double-page spreads in watercolor and graphite show the idyllic bond between the child and her uncle, as they walk together in the woods, row on the river, and more. In contrast are the scenes of her sadness and jealousy until she learns to have fun with both Bobby and Jamie together—even as they talk about their plans to raise their own kids. The climax is the joyful, exciting wedding—the couple in tuxedos, Chloe as the flower girl, and the big, extended family all together, smiling and teary. A celebration of same-sex marriage, this is about family happiness. Pair with Justin Richardson’s And Tango Makes Three (2005). Preschool-Grade 2. –Hazel Rochman
  6. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
    • Reasons for banning: offensive language, sexually explicity, and violence
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  Set at the fictional Trinity High School, the story follows protagonist Jerry Renault as he challenges the school’s cruel, brutal, and ugly mob rule.
  7. Forever, by Judy Blume
    • Reasons for banning: sexual content and offensive language
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  When you build up something in your mind-really imagine it, wish for it – sometimes, when it actually happens, it doesn’t live up to your expectations.  True love is nothing like that.  Especially not for Katherine and Michael, who can’t get enough of each other.  Their relationship is unique:  sincere, intense, and fun all at the same time.  Although they haven’t been together all that long, they know it’s serious.  A whole world opens up as young passion and sexuality bloom.  But it’s senior year of high school, and there are big changes ahead.  Michael and Katherine are destined for another big “first”:  a decision.  Is this the love of a lifetime, or the very beginning of a lifetime of love?
  8. In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
    • Reasons for banning: nudity, offensive language, and sexually explicit
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  In the Night Kitchen is a popular and controversial children’s picture book, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, and first published in 1970. The book depicts a young boy’s dream journey through a surreal baker’s kitchen where he assists in the creation of a cake to be ready by the morning.
  9. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
    • Reasons: anti-family, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  Virginia thinks the world of everyone but herself… Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex.  She lives on the Web, snarfs junk food, and obeys the “Fat Girl Code of Conduct.”  Her best friend and stuttering soul mate, Shannon, has moved to Walla Walla, Washington.  Froggy Welsh the Fourth has succeeded in getting his hand up Virginia’s shirt, but she lives in fear that he’ll look underneath.  Then there are the other Shreves.  Mom is an exercise fiend and a successful adolescent psychologist.  Dad, when not jet-setting, or golfing in Connecticut, ogles skinny women on TV.  Older siblings Anais and Bryon are slim, brilliant, and impossible to live up to.  Delete Virginia, and the Shreves are a picture-perfect family…until a phone call changes everything.
  10. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
    • Reasons for banning: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
    • Reviews
    • Synopsis:  It started when she was served a soft drink laced with LSD in a dangerous party game.  Within months, she was hooked, trapped in a downward spiral that took her from her comfortable home and loving family to the mean streets of an unforgiving city.  It was a journey that would rob her of her innocence, her youth – and ultimately her life.  Read her diary.  Enter her world.  You will never forget her.  For thirty-five years, the acclaimed , bestselling first-person account of a teenage girl’s harrowing descent into the nightmarish world of drugs has left an indelible mark on generations of teen readers.  As powerful-and as timely-today as ever, Go Ask Alice remains the definitive book on the horrors of addiction.

Is there an unquotable section of this book?

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