My Banned Book Reading Report

All right. I took my own challenge. I have finally managed to read a book I hadn't read before that has been banned or contested somewhere. Before I tell you which one, I would like to point out that I've read a bunch of new books that I think will get contested or that I'm surprised haven't been contested.

So, here's my book. Drum roll, please.

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble
by William Steig.

I know what you're thinking. You haven't read this before? And it's true. I hadn't. I wasn't read to much as a kid, and once I could read not at all. I missed the whole picture book part of youth, which is probably why I don't have a lot of interest in them today. There just isn't a whole cache of fond picture book memories floating around my brain.

However, I broke away from my usual comfort zone and read a picture book. And I enjoyed it. It's a classic, award winner for a reason.

Now the text is too long for a modern picture book. Picture books are still trending to the minimal word to wordless picture book with long stories like Sylvester becoming rare. However, that doesn't make Sylvester any less charming.

I also enjoyed the change in point of view in the story. Flipping back and forth between Sylvester the stone and his parents gives added depth to the plot. After all, it wouldn't be all that interesting to follow Sylvester's month as a rock. Nowadays, though, books are more rigid in their viewpoints.

In fact, Sylvester reads more like a fairy tale than a modern picture book. I loved reading it, and I recommend it to others.

And if you were wondering why it was banned, police associations in 12 states asked librarians to remove the book because the police in it were drawn as pigs. Now, all the characters are animals, and the police are not portrayed negatively, but on the page they appear, they are drawn as pigs.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hey, if it gets more people to read this magnificent book, I'm all for how the cops are drawn. To be honest, I'd never made the negative connotation about the pig-cops. They were just the cops, and they were trying to help find Sylvester.

Some people ought to quit thinking and start reading more books. That's all there is to it. Those pigs were cute.

Wendie O said...

Yes, the pigs were/ are cute. And all the characters are animals.

But, if you remember the times. Okay, most of you don't remember -- it was a time of protests and the worst thing a protester could think of to call the police was PIG! And they did it a lot.

So, it seemed a bit offensive to some people when this book won a prize -- with the police portrayed as pigs.

The rest of us simply enjoyed the story -- and waited for the objectors to realize that this was (Oh NO!) fantasy. With magic. For children.

The anti-fantasy crowd never noticed.

Sue said...

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I carried it around with me for weeks. It's charming, and sweet and just lovely.

People are idiots.

GumballGrenade said...

I understand what you're saying about not being read to as a child. But how wonderful to see picture books from an adult perspective. What a great selection!

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