Saturday, April 16, 2011

The One With a Picture

It's Saturday. It's Saturday and I'm working and don't have any interesting stories, but I do have a picture I found on my phone.

Here it is. Take that, hipsters!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The One With Offensive People Reading Books

My apologies to those of you who read this blog in a reader. The html etc. in my last post was messed up in an epic sort of way. I think I got it figured out.

Also, I just realized that, even though they were about a month apart, I began the post before this one and the one before that by talking about how much I love books. Sorry to be repetitive.

When we last met, I told you about offensive books that may or may not actually be offensive. Today is kind of along the same lines, but the offensiveness of the next book in question is more ambiguous. At least, it is to me.
Have you ever had one of those conversations with people that, you THINK you know the other person's opinion on something, but then it turns out you're WAY wrong

Par example, you're talking to someone about American Idol (which. . .I DO NOT WATCH), and the person you're talking to says, "Can you believe the shaggy haired guy?"

Now, their tone of voice leads you to believe that they share your opinion on the shaggy haired guy: that he's the most dreamy, talented man to ever stand behind a microphone. (Note: If there are currently any shaggy haired guys on American Idol, that is just a coincidence. I do not watch.) So you nod emphatically.

Then the other person continues by saying, "Seriously. Don't you have to have some TALENT and SEX APPEAL to be on these shows?"


Had you opened your mouth, the conversation would have ended quite differently, perhaps with a fistfight. Instead, your friend thinks you agree on something, and you know for sure your friend has lousy taste in men.

I think you know the types of conversations I mean. I had one of those today.

This lady and I were discussing banned books, and she said, "Oh, we banned a book once."

I THOUGHT she meant this particular library branch. That someone had complained, and they had removed a book because of it.

"Oh yeah?" I asked, wittily.

"Yeah," she said. "It was this book. . .I think it was called 'Two Princes.' It was about this prince trying to find a princess, but he couldn't find one he liked, and he ended up with another prince. A man."

"Oh," I said, rolling my eyes in a knowing manner. "That's ridiculous." My eyeroll was meant to convey that I, too, thought it was ridiculous that they would ban a book for something as innocuous as a gay king. The misunderstanding of the conversation went both ways, however, as I learned when she continued with, "I know. Can you believe it? A gay king. In a children's book! Once I figured out what was going to happen, I stopped reading the book to my grandchildren immediately!"



This lady wasn't offended that a book about gay princes had been removed from the library. She was offended there was a book about gay princes written.

"I collected all of them from this library and shipped them off to other branches," she said as she walked away, basking in her own smugness.

. . . . . . .

Apparently, it's in vogue now to promote small-mindedness and lifestyles different than your own. Excellent.

Incidentally, the book she was talking about is King and King by Linda de Haan.

Unfortunately, it looks like that lady won, because we have no copies in the system. But along with the bad, there is some good. The absolute cutest book I think I've seen in life is called "Where's Walrus?" by Stephen Savage. (I'd post a picture, but Blogger is giving me fits today, so you should just click on it to give it a look.) It's about this walrus that escapes from the zoo and hides from the zookeepper by putting on different hats and taking on different jobs. The book has no words, just pictures, but it's awesome. Kind of makes me want to go have a kid so I'd have an excuse to buy it. Maybe next time I'll find something other than books to talk about.

Then Again, Maybe I Won't.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The One With the Offensive Books

I love books.

I think anyone who knows me knows how I feel about books in general, libraries, reading, etc. Love it.

So today, when one of my new co-workers brought up two books that had been "challenged" in the system by people who wanted them removed, I was interested in what other people find offensive.
Book #1 was "It's a Book" by Lane Smith.

The premise of the book is that this monkey is reading a book, and this donkey (introduced in the first couple of pages, actually, as a "jackass") doesn't get that in order to read a book, you don't need all kinds of electronic gadgets.

"How do you scroll down?" asks the donkey.

The monkey replies, "I don't. I turn the page. It's a book."

"Can you make the characters fight?" asks the donkey.

Again, the monkey replies, "No. It's a book."

And on and on. Finally, at the end of the book, the monkey passes over his book to the donkey and then heads out to the library to get another one. "Don't worry!" the donkey calls out. "I'll charge it when I'm done!"

At this point, the mouse that lives under the monkey's hat says, "You don't need to. . ."

And when you turn the page, he finishes his sentence: ". . .it's a book, jackass!"

I laughed when I read that. It was a very funny, very cute, well-illustrated book. The problem? It is categorized in our Easy Reader, picture book section. Call me old-fashioned, call me too PC, say whatever you want, but I agree with whichever patron is it that brought this to our attention.

Can you imagine being up in front of a group of small elementary school-aged kids (and their parents!) and reading this out loud? Admittedly, if you're super-vigilant about what your kids read and you want to avoid profanity (even though yes, I KNOW "jackass" is another word for "donkey." I know this. But the double entendre is clearly intentional), then you should be screening the books beforehand. Sometimes, though, you just can't do that.

My vote on this one? Keep the book in the system (because it really is good), but put it in Juvenile Fiction, or even Adult Humor. Most of the story would go over young kids' heads anyway. (What little kid knows what a blog is? Or Twitter?)

Book #2 was "The Polar Bears Are Hungry" by Carol Carrick.

The story is about a mother polar bear and her cubs looking for hard-to-find food and ending up trying to break into a house to get food, being brought to "bear jail" and then being re-released into the wild. The pictures are beautiful. There is a vague liberal global warming agenda, but while it would be pretty obvious to astute parents, unless a parent wanted to say, "And all this is happening because of X, Y, and Z," kids wouldn't get it. How frightening the book would be would, in all actuality, depend on the tone of voice of the adult reading it.

The person who complained said there were pictures of bears viciously eating seals (not true. It just mentioned the bear was hunting seals. Which. . .they do.); that they "drugged" the bears and sent them to "jail" (true, but not as frightening as the lady made it out to be); and she said that it was "propegating" the "theory" of global warming, which is SO UNTRUE, because everyone smart knows that the Earth has, throughout the years, goes through periods of extreme heat and extreme cold.

I'd like to pause a moment here and comment that, um, did she not just disprove herself? She said the Earth isn't any hotter than it was 20 years ago, but then she goes on to say that the Earth continually gets hotter and colder.


She suggested that we get rid of every copy of that book in our system and send them back to the publisher, and that we then buy books about the REAL eating habits and habitats of polar bears. Which, I'm pretty sure this book has all of those things.

I guess some people just need to complain and be indignant.

One of my co-workers suggested maybe she just wants us to have copies of books about how polar bears hang out at the North Pole, where it's always frigid, with Santa and his elves.

That made me laugh.

If I haven't bored you enough yet, more about books in my next post, including offensively gay books and the cutest book I've ever read.

So what do you guys think? Should we ban profanity and books about the natural life cycle?