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18 February 2007 @ 11:46 am
Carpe Scrotum  
An article in The New York Times reports on the uproar surrounding the 2007 Newbery Medal winner,
The Higher Power of Lucky. What could be so alarming, you ask? From the article:

"The word “scrotum” does not often appear in polite conversation. Or children’s literature, for that matter.

Yet there it is on the first page of “The Higher Power of Lucky,” by Susan Patron, this year’s winner of the Newbery Medal, the most prestigious award in children’s literature. The book’s heroine, a scrappy 10-year-old orphan named Lucky Trimble, hears the word through a hole in a wall when another character says he saw a rattlesnake bite his dog, Roy, on the scrotum...

...The inclusion of the word has shocked some school librarians, who have pledged to ban the book from elementary schools, and reopened the debate over what constitutes acceptable content in children’s books."

The author's response at Publisher's Weekly reflects my own feelings:

"I was shocked and horrified to read that some school librarians, teachers, and media specialists are choosing not to include the 2007 Newbery Medal winner in their collections because they fear parental objections to the word scrotum, or because they are uncomfortable with the word themselves. If I were a parent of a middle-grade child, I would want to make decisions about my child's reading myself—I'd be appalled that my school librarian had decided to take on the role of censor and deny my child access to a major award-winning book. And if I were a 10-year-old and learned that adults were worried that the current Newbery book was not appropriate for me, I'd figure out a way to get my mitts on it anyway, its allure intensified by the exciting forbidden-ness—by the unexpressed but obvious fear on the part of these adults."

Other folks' comments (wherein I gleaned the subject line of my post) here and here. The great majority support the author, but then that may be in some small part due to the nature of the sites I'm looking at.

I'm about to dash out to a family gathering. More of my own musings to follow.
I feel: aggravatedaggravated
kmcclure on February 20th, 2007 10:56 pm (UTC)
My kids, 6 and 4, know what the penis and vagina are (my daughter, after an unfortunate yeast infection at age three was treated, told me 'my bagina is all better). They've known the terms since they were two, frankly because, hey, they're there. No, they're not part of the popular game of hokey pokey but they are learning that if an unauthorized person touches them it's bad hanky panky.

By all means, let's pretend an entire section of the body doesn't exist. If it doesn't exist, it won't get used and nothing bad can happen to it. Riiiight.
Kel: Gwen/Jack lurveladyjoust on February 20th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
I &hearts you.

Out of curiosity, would you hesitate to give the book to someone else's child?
kmcclure on February 21st, 2007 12:17 am (UTC)
Good question. If I've read a book and I think it's really good, I would (will?). I haven't read this one, yet (Of course, now I just HAVE to), so I can't judge.

I've passed Jane Yolen's "Devil's Arithmetic" to a nine-year old because it's a great book and important book. It's not fun, it's not nice and it's got way more difficult issues than the word 'scrotum'.

But that's just me.