The Amazing Bone
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1976
From the dust jacket, “It’s a bright and beautiful spring day, and Pearl, a pig, is dawdling on her way home from school. Most unexpectedly, she strikes up an acquaintance with a small bone. “You talk?” says Pearl. “In any language,” says the bone. “And I can imitate any sound there is.” (Its former owner was a witch.) Pearl and the bone immediately take a liking to each other, and before you know it she is on her way home with the bone in her purse, left open so they can continue their conversation. Won’t her parents be surprised when she introduces her talking bone!
“But before the happy moment comes, the resourceful bone must deal with a band of highway robbers in Halloween masks and, worse, a fox who decides that Pearl will be his main course at dinner that night. And deal it does, with gambits droll and thrilling.”
The publisher’s blurb tells the reader everything she needs to know about this cute story book. I’m calling it a story book because there are lots and lots of words, printed rather small. The watercolor illustrations are cute – with notable exceptions being the robbery scenes and the scenes of the fox forcing Pearl home with him. Those scenes might be scary for the more sensitive kitten in your family; however, if your kits play video games then masked robbers brandishing knives and guns at Pearl’s head might not bother them. The part that bothered me the most was the fox forcing the girl-pig home with him. It wasn’t scary – just creepy. Also, tobacco use is depicted in the book in two places.
Rating 2 out of 5 paws because while Pearl is a very cute piglet, the robbers with their weapons and the fox with his dastardly plans rubbed me the wrong way. Remember, just because the Library doesn’t like every book we read (like this one) we are OPPOSED to book banning and/or censorship of any kind.
- In 2008, a parent at an elementary school in Lehigh Acres, Florida, challenged this book due to violence in a robbery scene. A parent objected to a scene in the book in which robbers try to steal from the main character (a pig) and brandish pistols and a dagger. The parent wanted the book removed from the library. NCAC* and ABFFE** worked with the school principal and provided informational resources on the First Amendment in schools to the school’s book review committee. In an interview with a local TV station, we emphasized the importance of protecting all parents’ First Amendment rights to decide what their children may read. The review committee voted on February 8, 2008 to keep The Amazing Bone in the school, and school officials worked with the parent to accommodate the family individually.
from The Kids’ Right to Read Project
- Challenged at the Discovery Elementary School library in Issaquah, Wash. (1993) because of the graphic and detailed violence.
- 1986: A parent in Lambertville, New Jersey, objected to William Steig’s The Amazing Bone on the basis that one of the animal characters uses tobacco.
Reviewer: Jack, Banned Books Librarian
*National Coalition Against Censorship (ncac.org); **American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression