Sunday, September 21, 2014

Blubber & Clover

Every year around this time, I fold a book I might otherwise not read (or reread) into the pile in honor of Banned Books Week.  This year, I read (listened to) Blubber.  & yes, I know I has probably never been banned although it is often challenged.  What caught my eye was WHY it is so often suggested to be inappropriate for school libraries.

The book is, to be brief, about bullying.  & brace yourself:  the bullies are never really punished.  Even better (or worse) when the bullied have a chance to bully back, do bet!  & the problem with this is it sends the wrong message.  Apparently.  Because that is of course in the eye of the beholder.  Since the narrator is first person, anyone reading (listening!) has ringside seats in her experiences, injustices, etc.  there are very few adult-originated repercussions, but there is plenty of lesson to go around, if that is what you think every book on every school library shelf should be about.  SIDEBAR// this circuitous reasoning kind of made me laugh:  I have a problem with this book, therefore it should not be available to anyone.  That's right, I am bullying you out of access to a book about bullying because the bullies are inadequate punished.  Now everyone try & think of a way to punish THIS bully.

So I read Blubber.  Listened to, I listened to Blubber.  It was not familiar so I doubt I had encountered it before.  Which brings me to the other book I read during banned books month: Clover.  I had never read Clover either (it was published in 1991 & not that I didn't read children's books in my 20s, I was not exactly the demographic) although I had heard of the movie-mostly because of the cast.

Here is the thing about Clover:  it is a gentle, quiet book about a death immediately following a wedding.  A black man marries a white woman that his daughter, Clover, is none to sure about & then he dies in a car accident.  Everything that was changing, changes again.  I am not going to tell you anything else, read it don't read it, whichever you like. 

But here is the funny thing:  I looked & looked & looked & could find no where that Clover was ever challenged.  Maybe we are getting better after all. 

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