Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Banned Books Week with Mandie

Editor's Note: Not only is Mandie Mims a valued member of the Dallas Center Library staff (she serves as Subject Librarian for Health Care Administration, Health Literacy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Pathology), she has quite the sartorial flair as she demonstrated during Banned Books Week 2015. Here, Mandie shares interesting tidbits and personal reflections about banned and challenged books--all while suitably dressed, of course.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s works have frequently been challenged for reasons such as violence and unsuitability for younger age groups. His book Neverwhere came under attack in New Mexico. According to Gaiman, “The biggest boon that Banned Books Week provides is the discussion that is had with honesty and awareness…you’re a kid in a school district [that banned a book] and there’s not a local Barnes & Noble and you don’t have 20 or 50 bucks in disposable income…That book is gone. It was there and now it’s not. The fact you can buy it on Amazon doesn’t make that any less bad.”

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson)
Written in 1865, Alice was challenged in 1900 because of expletives; many parent groups have claimed it also encourages drug use and child abuse (the rumors of drug use began in the 1960s, although many branded those observations overreaching on the part of critics). Carroll said it best when he stated, “If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does."

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Both the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Academy Award-winning film have come under fire for their portrayals of the Civil War-era south. Despite frequent challenges (or perhaps because of them) the book is considered by many to be one of the Banned Books that Shaped America. Margaret Mitchell's characters have been some of the most enduring in American literature (who could forget Rhett’s famous last words: “My dear, I don’t give a d***”?).

300 by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley
Comic books and graphic novels are frequently challenged, and no one knows this better than the dynamic duo of Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. Their Batman story arcs have been targeted for depictions of extreme violence, and both authors have been attacked for their critiques of the government. The art and imagery in 300 is nothing short of breathtaking, and certainly not for kids! Some parents, however, seem to confuse pictures with children’s books. Miller stood his ground for 300, just as all information professionals should stand their ground for controversial books. “Give them nothing, but take from them everything,” he said.

Dangerous Angles: The Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block
This one holds a special place in my heart! Not only were the Weetzie Bat books some of my favorites growing up, but a parent at my high school challenged and successfully had these books removed from the school library during my senior year (the books are frequently criticized for their heavy subject matter, including same-sex relationships, children born out of wedlock, and the AIDS epidemic). Block’s surrealist style adds an element of fantasy to her topics, while her excellent character development makes her characters' experiences all the more painful. Her characters are both underrepresented in YA and intensely relatable--all the more reason why we need Weetzie Bat! “She knew they were all afraid. But love and disease are both like electricity," Weetzie thought. "They are always there--you can't see or smell or hear, touch or taste them, but you know they are there like a current in the air." "We can choose," Weetzie thought, "we can choose to plug into the love current instead.”

~Mandie Mims

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