Books by John Oliver and Angie Thomas on This Year’s List of ‘Most Challenged’ Titles

The American Library Association on Monday released its annual list of the “most challenged” books of last year — those that community members tried to get removed from their schools and libraries. It’s an imperfect measure, because the A.L.A. says most book challenges are not reported, but the objections noted for each book reflect some of the cultural issues dividing the United States: Six out of the 11 books were challenged for containing L.G.B.T.Q. characters. Another was challenged for “depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture,” according to the A.L.A. website. Here are the 11 books banned this year.

GEORGE
By Alex Gino
195 pp. Scholastic.

George, about a 10-year-old transgender child who has secretly renamed herself Melissa and longs to play Charlotte in her fourth-grade school play, was on the list of most banned books in 2016 and 2017 as well. When it was published in 2015, our reviewer called it “the most right-now book imaginable.”

“How do you talk to children about Caitlyn Jenner? Give them ‘George,’” he wrote.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF MARLON BUNDO
By Jill Twiss; illustrated by EG Keller
40 pp. Chronicle.

This book, the brainchild of the comedian John Oliver, parodies “A Day in the Life of the Vice President,” by Charlotte Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s daughter. Oliver’s version is about a gay romance between two bunnies, and he said it was meant as a rebuke to the vice president’s opposition to gay and transgender rights.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (SERIES)
Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey

The series as a whole was challenged for being perceived as “encouraging disruptive behavior,” and “Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot” was specifically challenged for including a same-sex couple, according to the A.L.A. The book follows two fourth-grade boys, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, and the superhero they invented: Captain Underpants.

THE HATE U GIVE
By Angie Thomas
444 pp. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins.

Thomas’s novel is about Starr Carter, a 16-year-old girl who is moved to action after she sees a police officer kill her childhood friend Khalil. Our reviewer called it “a page turner brimming with pop culture references and humor,” and it has been on this paper’s best-seller list since it was published in 2017.

DRAMA
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
233 pp. Scholastic.

In this graphic novel about Callie, a theater-loving teenager determined to create a set worthy of Broadway, Telgemeier “draws up-by-their-book-bags characters who value hard work and seize a chance that has nothing to do with looks or even with love,” our reviewer wrote.

THIRTEEN REASONS WHY
By Jay Asher
288 pp. Razorbill.

This book, which inspired the popular Netflix series by the same name, is made up of transcripts of the tapes recorded by 16-year-old Hannah Baker before she died by suicide. It was challenged for depicting teenage suicide.

THIS ONE SUMMER
By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
319 pp. First Second.

Our reviewer called this graphic novel a “moving, evocative book.” It follows Rose and Windy on their annual summer trip to a lake house in Awago Beach with Rose’s parents. But this summer is different: The girls are growing up, and they must contend with older boys, Rose’s mother’s mental health challenges and more.

SKIPPYJON JONES (SERIES)
Written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
Unpaged. Dutton Children’s Books.

Our reviewer praised this series about a Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua, calling it “refreshing because of its irreverence,” but it was challenged for stereotypical depictions of Mexican culture, according to the A.L.A.

THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN
By Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Ellen Forney
230 pp. Little, Brown.

This young adult novel follows Arnold Spirit Jr., a geeky Native American living a hard life on the Spokane Reservation. After he gets in trouble in school, a teacher gives him some advice: to get out. He transfers to a new school with more resources and greater opportunities, but he is the only American Indian, and he struggles to fit in there and back home. Our reviewer called this “a gem of a book.”

THIS DAY IN JUNE
By Gayle E. Pitman; illustrated by Kristyna Litten
40 pp. Magination.

In this picture book, Pitman depicts a pride celebration. The book was challenged and burned for including L.G.B.T.Q. content.

TWO BOYS KISSING
By David Levithan
208 pp. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Levithan’s novel, narrated by a chorus of gay men lost to AIDS, focuses on two teenagers who participate in a 32-hour kissing marathon to set a new Guinness World Record. The book explores belonging, love and gay identity.


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