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

Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Cat

three more stories

 

Three More Stories You Can Read to Your Cat

Sara Swan Miller
Illustrated by True Kelley
Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002

From the dust jacket, “Here kitty, kitty! Would you like to hear a story? Here is your chance to cozy up with your cat and treat her to three new stories written just for felines. If your cat likes to wake up early—very early—then she’ll think this book is the cat’s meow. She will also like to hear about some interesting birthday presents and funny white stuff she can play in. Here is a funny book to savor with or without your favorite cat!

“Sara Swan Miller and True Kelly, author and illustrator of Three Stories You Can Read to Your Cat, have again joined forces to create three new and hilarious adventures that will have readers everywhere happily purring. So do your cat a favor and read her this book. Just remember to pet your pet while you read!”

Three MORE stories??!! I haven’t even read the first ones! Anyway, speaking as a cat who reads books to other cats – it was very funny!! While the birthday present one and the white fluffy stuff (snow) one were both funny – the waking up early one was the funniest by far! It reminded me so much of what Toby goes through with mom almost every morning! I rolled on the floor laughing it was so funny. The author must know cats very well to write something so true to feline nature.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for laugh out loud funny stories that you’d better read to your cats!!!

Reviewer:

peggysue-loc

PeggySue

 

 

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

junie b jones and the stupid smelly bus

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus

Barbara Park
Illustrated by Denise Brukus
Random House Children’s Books, 1992

Banned/Challenged 1998 – New Jersey – Challenged but retained at Harmony Township school after a parent complained that the book teaches extreme negative emotions (i.e., hate) are okay and the book never resolves the issues it raises or gives way to handle negative emotions.

From the back of the book: “It’s the first day of kindergarten! Only Junie B. Jones does NOT want to ride the school bus home. That’s because it smells on the bus. Plus also, there are meanies on the bus who might pour chocolate milk on your head. In fact, Junie B. is so scared of the school bus that when it’s time to go home…she doesn’t!”

Funny, funny, funny! This book is just too funny – and so familiar to anyone who’s been around kindergarteners’ who are angry and refuse to do something they don’t like! It’s like the author is inside a 5-year-old’s brain, listening to their thoughts. Junie B. has no filter or volume control on what she says so that’s funny, too. She’s also very bright and mischievous which is a dangerous combination.

Regarding the challenge against the books “extreme negative emotions”, rather than negating a kitten’s negative emotions, this book validates them. Too often kittens are admonished or shamed for being mad or not wanting to do something they’re told to do. Unfortunately, they learn early on to hide those emotions that are unacceptable to their parents, teachers and society, only to have them erupt in other ways.

Rating: 4 out of 5 paws because of the validation of negative emotions before it became popular to do so.

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