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

And Tango Makes Three

and tango makes three

And Tango Makes Three

Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2005

From the dust jacket, “In the zoo there are all kinds of animal families. But Tango’s family is not like any of the others.”

This is a true story of 2 male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who became a couple and built a nest for an egg that never came. One of the zookeepers placed an extra fertilized egg in the boy penguin’s empty nest and they each took turns to sit on it and eventually, a female chick, Tango, was hatched.

The penguins in the story are so sweet – they’re like any other animal couple – playing, sleeping and eating together; and, most of all, their inborn desire to have a chick. When I was reading it, my heart hurt a little when Roy and Silo built their little nest and tried to hatch a rock – which of course, didn’t hatch. Thank goodness for attentive zookeepers who care for their charges and want to provide the best for them.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for cuteness of the penguins, of course, but more importantly, for the honesty and forthrightness with which the story is told. No apologies or excuses, here. Just the facts, ‘mam, just the facts. Two boys can make a family!!

If you want to read about the multiple times this book has been challenged and banned, please scroll past the adorable illustrations!

 

 

 

You can imagine why this book is banned and challenged… The ALA reports that And Tango Makes Three was the most frequently challenged book from 2006 to 2010, except for 2009 when it was the second most frequently challenged…and thank you to the ALA for the following information.

2014 –
• One of three books about gay couples withdrawn from libraries in Singapore (2014), where gay sex is illegal. In a statement, the National Library Board suggested that gayness and family values are incompatible. And that copies of the book would be pulped. It was announced later that authorities in Singapore reversed their decision and stopped the national library from destroying the children’s books, after its decision in July produced a public outcry over literary censorship. Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim ordered that the books be moved to the adult section, where parents can borrow them for their children.
• Frequently challenged in the U.S. for the following reasons: anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, as well as “promotes the homosexual agenda”

2011 –
• Pulled from the Gibbs Elementary School in Rochester, Minn. (2011) as inappropriate for elementary school students and removed from school library shelves. This decision was later reversed as a mistake for failing to follow district policy. Eventually, a “temporary resolution” was reached requiring that one of the parents who challenged the book be present when their child checks out books from the school media center in the future.

2009 –
• Challenged, but retained in the North Kansas City, Mo. schools despite a parent’s concern that the book wasn’t age-appropriate, didn’t follow the district’s policy on human sexuality education, and tries to indoctrinate children about homosexuality. In subsequent discussions, the schools appear to be headed towards segregating elementary school libraries according to “age appropriateness.” Students might be restricted to view or check out materials in their own age-class or younger.

2008 –
• Returned to the general circulation shelves in the 16 elementary school libraries in Loudoun County, Va. despite a complaint about its subject matter.
• Withdrawn from two Bristol, England, U.K., primary schools following objections from parents who claimed the book was unsuitable for children and that they had not been consulted on their opinions.
• Challenged, but retained at the Eli Pinney Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio despite a parent’s concerns that the book “is based on one of those subjects that is best left to be discovered by students at another time or in another place.”
• Challenged in the elementary school library in Ankeny, Iowa by parents who do not want their children to read the story of two male penguin parents in the Central Park Zoo due to concerns that it promotes homosexuality. On Dec. 15, 2008, the Ankeny school board members voted six to one to keep the book.
• Retained in the Chico, Calif. Unified School District, over complaints that the book is inappropriate for elementary school students. The district review committee determined that the book meets library selection standards and district policy.
• Retained by the Calvert County Library in Prince Frederick, MD after requests that the book be removed from the children’s section and shelved in a labeled alternative section.
• Retained in the Meadowview Elementary School in Farmington, Minn. despite a parent’s concern that “a topic such as sexual preference does not belong in a library where it can be obtained by young elementary students.”

2007 –
• Challenged at the Lodi, Calif. Public Library by a resident deriding what she called its “homosexual story line that has been sugarcoated with cute penguins.”

2006 –
• Moved from the children’s fiction section to children’s nonfiction at 2 Rolling Hill’s Consolidated Library’s branches in Savannah and St. Joseph, Mo after parents complained of its homosexual undertones.
• Challenged at the Shiloh, Ill Elementary School library. A committee of school employees and a parent suggested the book be moved to a separate shelf, requiring parent permission before checkout. The school’s superintendent, however, rejected the proposal and the book remained on the library shelf.
• Pulled from 4 elementary school libraries in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC area after a few parents and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James questioned the controversial but true story. The books were returned after the local paper questioned the ban. It should be noted that there was no formal request for the book’s removal.

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