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Ban this book?

The recent winner of the Newbery Medal, which is one of the most prestigious awards for children fiction writing, is evoking some controversy because of its use of the word scrotum. Susan Patron's "The Higher Power of Lucky" uses the word on the first page of the book, and some librarians, teachers and parents are up-set about this. One librarian calls it a "Howard Stern-type shock." The author defends use of this word, saying that they don't see the word in context, just the word itself. She says she chose the word because:


“The word is just so delicious,? Ms. Patron said. “The sound of the word to Lucky is so evocative. It’s one of those words that’s so interesting because of the sound of the word.?

Many papers picked up Julie Bosman's take on this story, including the Pioneer Press and the New York Times.

The interesting thing about this story was that much of the discussion of this issue was through a librarian listserv and blogs. This is also a challenge in this story. The reporters can't use chatter from the blogs in their stories. They need substantial people. That involved going out and finding out who wrote the blogs, and who had heard of the issue.

Bosman credited Publisher's Weekly with breaking the story, but I'm venturing a guess that they picked up the story by monitoring blogs.

There is also a challenge with this piece because it is being received differently throughout the U.S. Bosman does a good job of providing an overview of where the book might and is banned, but also provides specific examples of places and specific people.

The story was also picked up in other countries, including in Australia's The Australian. James Bone of the Australian uses virtually the same quotes as Bosman, but does not go nearly as in depth. This is a more general story, because Australia doesn't really care exactly where the book is being banned; only that it is being banned.

Comments

Interesting look at the new places that reporters find story ideas. I wonder if we'll see bans widely. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.