I have never understood the concept of banning books and I am often surprised when I find out that I book I have read is on that ever-growing list. I was reading an email today about books that have been banned and I was super surprised to run across a title I had reviewed a while ago. I guess that makes me a rebel.
Apparently, it has been pulled from K-12 school districts because of language and adult situations. That leads me to my biggest whine about banned books in general, irresponsibility. When it comes to banned books that tends to take one of two forms. The first is the people that say that because a book offends them no one should be reading it. If that were true the bible and every other holy book in the world should be at the top of any banned list. I can’t imagine any book that has offended more people over the centuries than have the books of world religions. That example alone is the proof of the reckless misguided idea of banned books in general.
As much as that attitude irritates me, it is the second form that makes me sad and not a little mad. Those people that ban books because they never bothered to pay attention to what is in them, to begin with. That is the situation that This One Summer finds itself in. The book was purchased for elementary libraries with the idea that it was a comic book suitable for young kids. Let me be clear, it isn’t. However, these districts are banning the book across the grades!?!
The reason this steams me is that from my earliest reading years my mom was aware of what I was reading, occasionally she told me to wait until I was older but mostly she was just there in case I had questions or needed to discuss. As a mom, this is a policy that I adopted with my own child. I will admit that my child not being in the same place maturity-wise as I was at his age meant I told him “no, wait” more often than my mom had me, but I have always had an idea of the books my child was putting into his brain.
I can understand the parents of young children who felt blindsided by this book, but who are they to take it away from my teen if I had deemed it an acceptable risk? I can parent my own child thank you very much. I ask, where were the librarians who didn’t read the book or even the synopsis to know enough that this book is at least middle grade, but was definitely transparent about the adult nature of the subject matter? When I decided to review the book, I had intended it to be posted on my children to middle-grade blog along with other children’s books by Jillian Tamaki. Instead, I moved it to the teen books on THIS blog and I even wrote a note about how the book was too old for the suggested crowd. I guess I have to wonder why because other adults didn’t take even that small amount of effort, a book that realistically and healthily deals with subjects that young teens are subject to every day had to be banned.
Banned books are always going to chap my hide. I don’t agree with censorship, I believe in proactive discussion. This book generated discussion, I guess that is why I am so upset.
This One Summer
Written by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Rose’s family regularly vacations at Awago Beach during the summer. It is a place of happy memories, a home away from homemade all the more special by the addition of her summer bestie Windy. This summer though things are not as they have been. Rose’s parents are fighting, Rose is struggling with some issues of her own, and she and Windy unwittingly get pulled into the drama of Awago residents.
The first thing a reader notices about this book is its stunning monochrome art. Not quite black and white, not quite the color blue. It sets the tone for the whole story. It is fitting for the flashbacks to happier times and fitting for the angst that overshadows this particular beach vacation. Twelve-year-old Rose is on the cusp of adolescence. That murky time between just being a child that is simply a part of all that is going on around her and starting to notice that the world is not quite as cohesive as she had once believed. She is trying to see where she fits; fits in the changing dynamic of her family, fits in a world where suddenly boys are interesting and complicated, fits in a world where everything is constantly changing. The graphics brilliantly reflect the complexity of the story of Rose’s world and keeps the pace of the story even in the absence of words.
This book is written about 10- and 12-year-olds, but with the adult language and situations, I would suggest that it is geared more toward high school age than middle grade. It is probably a story that will resonate with most teens in some way.