Welcome to our banned books feature where this month Beth and I have read Drama by Raina Telgemeier.
Callie loves theater. And while she would totally try out for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi, she can’t really sing. Instead she’s the set designer for the drama department stage crew, and this year she’s determined to create a set worthy of Broadway on a middle-school budget. But how can she, when she doesn’t know much about carpentry, ticket sales are down, and the crew members are having trouble working together? Not to mention the onstage AND offstage drama that occurs once the actors are chosen. And when two cute brothers enter the picture, things get even crazier!
First published: 2012
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: sexually explicit
Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: As one of our most recent releases (2012), I don’t believe things have really changed much in the past four years so my answer is the same for both this and the next question, which is of course a resounding NO! I try and approach every banned book we read in the same way – with an open mind and also without reading the reason for banning/challenging this book in the first place (although usually I can kind of guess!) When I first started reading this super-cute graphic novel, I thought I had hit the nail on the head on why it may have posed a problem, namely that there is some homosexuality in the book which I know can be an issue for some people. However, I was supremely surprised when I saw that the actual reason is that it is “sexually explicit.” Well, blow me down with a feather, I am struggling to understand where exactly the explicit parts of the book were! Honestly, in my opinion there were none.
CHRISSI: I have to agree with Beth. I didn’t look up the reason why this book was banned, prior to reading it. To find out that it was because it was sexually explicit…well, I can’t even begin to think about what was supposed to be sexually explicit anywhere in the story. There was homosexuality- which is why I thought it was going to be banned, as I know that’s a ‘problem’ for some readers. I honestly don’t see anything or any reason why this book should be banned. AT ALL.
How about now?
BETH: See previous answer! And if “sexual explicit” was a fancy term for disapproval of the fact that there was teenage homosexuality afoot, then especially not. I like to think that we live in an open, accepting society nowadays but unfortunately there will always be those people that challenge others who are attracted to the same sex and discrimination of any kind really gets my hackles up. I think it’s a fantastic book for demonstrating that people who are gay just happen to be human beings like the rest of the heterosexuals in society and should not be judged as a result.
CHRISSI: It should not be challenged in my opinion. I think it’s important that every individual is respected and represented and I loved to read a story where homosexuality was represented in a book that was aimed at teenage readers who might be going through similar experiences.
What did you think of this book?:
BETH: I loved this book so much! I am just dipping my toes into the world of graphic novels and am so glad I have, this is a wonderful example of great graphics, awesome characters and a plot that is off the cuteness chart. I have previously heard of the author, through her other graphic novel “Smile,” which Chrissi and I were tempted to pick up before reading this but now I for one will definitely be picking up for sure!
CHRISSI: It’s adorable. It’s quick and easy to read. The artwork is simple, yet effective. I’d definitely read another book by this author. I hope many people aren’t put off by the fact that this book is banned. It’s so worthwhile.
Would you recommend it?:
BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Of course!