The Rabbits’ Wedding

the rabbits wedding a

The Rabbits’ Wedding

Story and Pictures by Garth Williams
Harper & Row Publishers, 1958, 1990

From the dust jacket, “Two little rabbits, one white and the other black, played together happily in the forest. But in between the games of Hop, Skip and Jump Me and Race around the Blackberry Bush the black rabbit stopped and signed, “I’m just thinking,” he would say, when the white rabbit asked him what was the matter. …”

Totally cute story of two bunnies who are friends and each has a secret crush on the other. When they both realize this, they decide to get married and all their forest friends are invited. The illustrations are charming and colored in muted tones of green and yellow, with the black and white bunnies. A perfect little picture book for kittens – especially the ones who love rabbits and romantic stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because who doesn’t love a wedding!?!

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Why this book was challenged and then banned (info from Wikipedia):  “The Rabbits’ Wedding was published on April 30, 1958, and depicted the love affair and wedding of two bunnies, one white and one black.

“The book’s publication led to controversy in the state of Alabama in 1959: the local White Citizens Council of Montgomery, Alabama, attacked the book which, they said, promoted interracial marriage in defiance of the laws against miscegenation. Against such attacks, the book found an advocate in Emily Wheelock Reed, director of the Alabama Public Library Service Division, whose job it was to provide libraries throughout the state with the books they requested.

“Representative E. O. Eddins of Marengo County, Alabama, together with the White Citizen’s Council, led the battle against Williams’ book, and suggested Reed “put stock in racial incorporation” and “This book and many others should be taken off the shelves and burned.” As a result, the library system banned the book from all libraries in Alabama.

“Reed (who said she enjoyed the book) complied to the extent that she moved it away from general circulation and instead put it on reserve, available upon request; this made the book still accessible to local librarians and thus was not a ban of the book: “We have had difficulty with the book, but we have not lost our integrity”. Before the year was over segregationists again found fault with Reed, who distributed a reading list that included various controversial titles including Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.

“During an interview with The New York Times in 1959, Garth Williams said, “[The Rabbits’ Wedding] was not written for adults who will not understand it, because it is only about a soft, furry love and has no hidden messages of hate.” Williams denied that his story, intended for children ages 3 to 7, was a purposeful anecdote of racial integration. “I was completely unaware that animals with white furs, such as white polar bears and white dogs and white rabbits, were considered blood relations of white human beings,” Williams commented. Williams further explained to The New York Times: “I was only aware that a white horse next to a black horse looks very picturesque—and my rabbits were inspired by early Chinese paintings of black and white horses in misty landscapes.”

 

 

Crow Boy

crow boy

Crow Boy

Taro Yashima
Viking, 1955, 1983

From the dust jacket, “Chibi has been an outcast since that frightening first day of school when he hid under the schoolhouse. Afraid of the teacher and unable make any friends, Chibi passes his free time along—alone at study time, alone at playtime, always a “forlorn little tag-along.” But when Mr. Isobe arrives, the teacher sees things in Chibi that no one else has ever noticed….

 

Chibi is a little boy who is bullied and ignored by kids his own age. He grows from the first year of school to the final 6th year and never makes a childhood friend. But he seems happy with himself and in his final school year he blossoms under the attention of a caring teacher. Even his fellow classmates admit their wrong in how they treated him.

The lessons in acceptance and tolerance of those who don’t follow the main stream is subtle but clear. It would be nice to think that, like in the book, the bullies of our lives would come to the realization that every cat and kitten are important – regardless of who they are or what they look like. The illustrations are colorful and crudely drawn. I don’t mind this type of illustration every once in a while, but I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it; it’s too abstract for my tastes. But don’t let the illustrations keep you from reading this book to yourself and your kittens. We all need a lesson in acceptance – it seems to be a skill lacking in many toms, queens and kittens of all ages.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the positive ending to a potentially very sad story of bullying.

For banned/challenged book information, please scroll past the illustrations!

 

This book was challenged by a school board member in Queens (NY) in 1994 because it “denigrates white American culture, promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation.” The rest of the school board voted to retain the book.

So…this is a book written and illustrated by a Japanese writer/artist, it’s setting an unnamed village in rural Japan, peopled only by Japanese – and it denigrates American white culture? Promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation? Really? Was the American school board member so egotistical that he (or she) felt the American white culture is so superior to anything else in the world that all other cultures pale by comparison? Thank the Lord for the other board members who voted to retain this book. Were they not more broadly minded, this precious story would’ve been consigned to the book graveyard.

I really try to stay neutral on the subject of banning/challenging books in reviewing them, but some charges are just too ludicrous not to speak up.

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

In the Night Kitchen

in the night kitchen

In the Night Kitchen

Maurice Sendak
Lettering by Diana Blair
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 1970

The first thing you should know about this frequently challenged/banned book is that the author is Maurice Sendak. If you are familiar with his books, then you know what I mean. If not, then just know that he is a bit off-the-beam, left-of-center and not afraid of his artistic vision.

Why is this cute picture book challenged? Because it’s main character, Mickey, falls into a crazy dream and falls out of his clothes. That’s right – Mickey is naked – with his willie exposed and everything. I laughed. I laughed because it was funny; and because his willie is teeny-tiny and has no detail. It’s a nubbin’. Really. Just a nubbin’. And for that, some librarians (both school and public) have reportedly obscured poor Mickey’s nether region with tape, markers and the like. It’s an illustration of a dream, for goodness sake, and kittens (for whom it was written) will find it very funny. Kittens aren’t born being self-conscious about their bodies – it’s something they learn from the adults around them.

Beyond all that censorship nonsense, In the Night Kitchen is a fun romp through a dream about having cake in the morning. I wish I had cake every morning! Mickey gets mistaken for milk by a trio of Oliver Hardy (of Laurel and Hardy fame) chefs baking a giant cake. He eventually climbs out of the cake and into a bread dough plane only to fall into a giant bottle of milk, which he then gives to the bakers so they can bake their cake. It’s a crazy dream-story – no crazier than any of the ones I have and are able to remember. It’s fun and funny.

Exercise your freedom to read what you want and check-out this book from your local library! (Did you know the books that get checked out infrequently are removed and discarded?)

Rating: 5 out of 5 paws for a fun book about a crazy dream and cake in the morning! Who cares Mickey is naked?!

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

 

Draw Me a Star

Banned Books Week is coming up soon (September 24-30) and in an effort to promote our stand against censorship and banning of books, we hope to begin publishing a review of a banned or challenged book several times a month. The more those books are read, the better off we all will be! We might not like the books, either in full or in part, but that’s not the point. The point is being able to READ them without restrictions. Jack, our current North Carolina Division Chief will be handling those reviews. For more information about Banned Books Week and lists of challenged/banned books, please click on the link to the ALA website!!

Words Have Power-ThumbnailCLICK HERE 

 

 

draw me a star

Draw Me a Star

Eric Carle
Philomel Books, a division of The Putnam & Grosset Group, 1992

 

From the dust jacket, “This is a story about an artist who, from his earliest years, draws: the simple star, the tree, house, flowers, clouds, night. In drawing, he discovers not only his art, but his life. holding on to his star, he creates a world of light and possibility.

“With his brilliant collage, poignant and powerful in its simplicity, Eric Carle creates an unforgettable story that celebrates the imagination and the artist in us all.”

This lovely picture book reminds me that so much beauty can come from simple things – if I only bother to look. From a star to a sun to a tree to people to home and family and gardens and then to the moon and back to a star, life moves ever forward in a full circle.

The illustrations are colorful and bright collages of painted tissue paper that look like they are (for lack of a better word) crudely put together. It is a shame that the main reason this book isn’t read as much as the author’s other books are is because of the nude man and woman. In the Library’s opinion there’s nothing wrong with the illustration; there’s no detail, just basic forms and shapes. However, the female figure’s two different color circles/breasts, and the triangle of pubic hair bother me a bit. If the artist had given the male figure 2 smaller circles and a triangle, too, it wouldn’t have bugged me at all. And really, it’s a lot less explicit than classical paintings by Renaissance master artists. By focusing on that one illustration, the reader can lose focus on the rest of the book and the simple beauty of the words and the art.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws – we love the art and the story. And despite the book’s detractors, The Library is committed to the free expression of writers’ and artists’ talents as their muse directs them.

Banned in Texas – Aldine Independent School District (Houston) Magrill Elementary for Sexual Content and Nude illustration

1996 – Washington – Challenged in the elementary school libraries of Edmonds School District for illustrations of nude man and women

1999 – New York – Challenged but retained in the Dorothy B Bunce Elementary School library in Pavilion after parent’ objective of an illustrations of nude man and women based on Adamn and Eve mythology

#61 on Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

 

Slaughterhouse-Five

618291

Slaughterhouse-Five
Or The Children’s Crusade, A Duty-Dance with Death

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Delacorte Press, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc, 1994, 25th Anniversary Edition

Originally published in 1969

This is one trippy book (and movie – but more about the movie later). Very easy to read – I read it in a day; but not necessarily easy to follow. No, I take that back, it was easy to follow, just not easy to understand at first. The story jumps back and forth through time, following its main character, Billy Pilgrim. Billy has become “unstuck in time.”  In the blink of an eye or a heartbeat he travels at various points in this life, both in the past and in the future. While the story of Billy opens in the 1960s, the reader spends most of the time during World War 2 in the couple of months before the bombing of Dresden, Germany.

Main Character

*Billy Pilgrim, described as “a funny-looking child who became a funny-looking youth—tall and weak, and shaped like a bottle of Coca-Cola.”{pg 22}  He is a bystander in his own life, observing it rather than participating in the events that happen to him.

Secondary Characters

*Edgar Derby, high school teacher, friend of Billy during WW2, shot for absentmindedly claiming a teapot that looked like one at home.
*Montana Wildhack, Billy’s shapely companion in the zoo set up on the planet Tralfamadore where the creatures set up a geodesic dome for them live and be observed in.
*Lazzaro, self-proclaimed enemy of Billy’s during WW2. He promises to kill Billy one day in the distant future, and he actually does.
*Valencia Merble, Billy’s wife who “was rich. She was as big as a house because she wouldn’t stop eating.”
{pg 102}

The book is supposed to be a treatise against war, and it certainly accomplishes that purpose. The time-jumping lends a disjointed-ness to the story, which may what being in a war is like (I’ll never know). At least anyone who has suffered any type of trauma has felt that disjointedness or, disassociation with life at times. Even though the book is easy to read, it is hard to read as well. If you aren’t focused in the beginning or have a short attention span this is not the book for you. The movie is worse – not that the actors do a bad job – it’s just that so much is left out that if you haven’t read the book the movie won’t make a bit of sense to you. I read the book and the movie barely made any sense to me!

I did love the way the author describes Billy’s mom – so classic: “It wasn’t that she was ugly, or had bad breath or a bad personality. She was a perfectly nice, standard-issue, brown-haired, white woman with a high school education.” {pg 97}

Rating: 3 out of 5 paws because it is a classic American novel, it is well written for all it’s trippiness and it does show the horrors of war; however, it is just not a book I will read again.

jack 071115aaReviewer: Jack

Banned book info –

This book was published in 1969 and between 1972 and 2010 it has been banned, challenged, restricted and/or burned  18 times – at least that is the officially reported number. The book isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but everyone – including high school students – should be free to discover that themselves. So it goes. . .

Movie cover & posters

   

Alternate Covers

             Slaughterhouse-Five  9246791