Banned Books #60- In The Night Kitchen

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books! This month, we read In The Night Kitchen.

In the Night Kitchen

First published: 1970
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2004 (source)
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Trying not to scream at this moment in time. I’ve just finished this book (as it’s a picture book it took me about 30 seconds!) and sat down to collect my thoughts on why it might be banned. As always, I don’t like to read the reasons until I’ve finished the book and I had a sneaking suspicion nudity might be in there but as for the others? I just can’t deal with it. This book is one of the less recent banned books in our challenge so far, being published in 1970 and although I wasn’t around back then, I’m struggling to understand why a children’s picture book could cause such offence. Especially for the reasons mentioned! Let’s go back to the nudity thing. Yes, there is a cartoon picture of a naked little boy. It’s not gratuitous or explicit in any way and I really can’t comprehend why an innocent drawing could cause a furore. Answers on a postcard please.

CHRISSI: I thought it would be nudity when I saw the pictures. As Beth said, it’s a cartoon naked boy. It’s not an explicit, detailed picture and it’s not on every single page. So do I agree with any of the reasons? No. There really isn’t a reason that I could get behind for challenging this book. Would I read it to my class? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s a great story in my opinion. No other reason than that!

How about now?

BETH: Sigh. A challenge on this book was raised as recently as 2004 which means for me that some people somewhere are still having an issue with this book. Okay let’s take nudity out of the question because that might be just some people’s personal preference – which I can kind of understand, innocent though it is. But sexually explicit and offensive language? Was I reading a different book?! Has it been re-published and watered down for the noughties children, amending some lurid details from the seventies? Please can someone enlighten me because if it hasn’t, I don’t understand where the sexual explicitness and offensive language came from. In my eyes, there was none! Ridiculous.

CHRISSI: I honestly can’t see anything wrong with this book. I, too, understand that naked children is a bit of an issue, but it’s a story. There’s nothing sexually explicit about it whatsoever. I’m a bit baffled by it. Like Beth, I’m wondering if the story has been changed?

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I understand that Maurice Sendak is a beloved children’s author however for me, this book didn’t quite work. I appreciated the fantastical, whimsical elements but I sadly didn’t connect with it on the level that I wanted to. Perhaps because I’m not the intended age group for the book? It has fans all over the globe though and was nominated for the Caldecott Medal in 1971 so it’s obviously a treasured piece of children’s literature.

CHRISSI: It was very, very odd. I do like whimsical stories but this one didn’t really work for me. I actually finished it and wondered what on earth I’d been reading!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

 

Beth and Chrissi Do Kit Lit- What Katy Did

What Katy Did

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Katy Carr intends to be beautiful and beloved and as sweet as an angel one day. For now, though, her hair is forever in a tangle, her dress is always torn and she doesn’t care at all for being called ‘good’. But then a terrible accident happens and Katy must find the courage to remember her daydreams and the delightful plans she once schemed; for when she is grown up she wants to do something grand…

Thoughts:

I read this book a while back on recommendation from Beth. It was really great to revisit it again. Although I didn’t read it as a child, like Beth did, it still felt nostalgic coming back to it 8 years after I first read it.

It centres around the bundle of energy that is Katy Carr. Katy lost her mother when she was younger and feels responsible for her 5 siblings. Katy’s always getting into trouble. She’s a feisty character who is often in trouble for talking in class, for breaking things and for generally being a bit careless. Katy is involved in an accident which changes her outlook on life. When visited by her cousin, Helen, who is unable to walk, Katy soon learns that her situation isn’t as dire as she thought. She takes on Helen’s advice and feels more hopeful about the future. I really like Katy as a character. She’s feisty, strong and full of energy!

Whilst it does come across as a little old-fashioned (it is over 100 years old!) it’s such a charming read. I liked that it did have a darker more serious side to it. I think it teaches children that life isn’t always straight forward. . I loved how it taught many lessons without being preachy which can be an issue sometimes. Old children’s books really do have something special about them.

For Beth’s wonderful review, check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge:
The Dreamsnatcher- Abi Elphinstone

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1)

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Thoughts:

Well, well, well… I used to be quite the fan of Enid Blyton when I was younger. I loved her whimsical writing and I was looking forward to getting stuck into the adventures once more. It is still totally charming, but I’m a little sad that they’ve changed the name of the characters. I believe Frannie was once Fanny. I can see that children would laugh at that now but they probably would’ve done so when reading it when it was first published too. Beth reminded me that Dame Snap had been changed from Dame Slap. For goodness sake, censorship is a little ridiculous nowadays. I don’t see any harm in those names at all. I know when I read about a character named Dick in my class, the children giggle. I just have to explain that it’s short for Richard and they tend to get over it quickly. This is a story and children aren’t as delicate as we think.

Mini rant aside, I thought this book was just as whimsical and lovely as I remember. I remember absolutely loving Moon Face! 🙂 I loved their magical adventures and always wondered what land would come up next. As an adult, I think I look at it more critically which is a shame. However,  it’s strange to think how easy-going the children’s parents were. It was apparently fine to go off until midnight into a magical land! If you can put little things like that  aside, then I really think this story will bring you a lot of joy. It certainly perked me up!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (June):
What Katy Did- Susan Coolidge

Books For Young Children Around Mental Health

In keeping with mental health awareness week, I thought I’d put out some recommendations for mental health awareness for young children. The book image goes to Goodreads!

The Cloud

Everyone has bad days, and children are no exception. When a black cloud descends on a little girl at school, support from a classmate with a great deal of imagination helps to brighten up everyone’s lives. 

The Color Thief: A Family's Story of Depression

A child recounts his experience of losing his father to depression in this poignant and beautifully illustrated picture book. The boy’s father disappears into a world without color. As the father seeks help, color begins to reappear and with it hope. 

This is such an important, powerful book!

The Goldfish Boy

Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn’t been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac. 

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child’s life… but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?

I’m yet to read this book but I have heard such amazing things about it. The main character has OCD. It’s aimed at middle grade aged children!

The Red Tree

When a child awakens with dark leaves drifting into her bedroom, she feels that ‘sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to, and things go from bad to worse.’

Feelings too complex for words are rendered into an imaginary landscape where the child wanders, oblivious to the glimmer of promise in the shape of a tiny red leaf. 

Everything seems hopeless until the child returns to her room and sees the red tree. At that perfect moment of beauty and purity, the child smiles and her world stirs anew.

I truly believe there is no harm in children learning about mental health. I know I experience children with anxiety in the class and some even with self-harm issues. We need to educate our young children to deal with their mental/emotional health. It’s just as important as our physical health. I’m thrilled that so many books are now representing mental health. It’s not only something adults experience.

 

Chrissi’s Class Reads #12

We’ve read another 5 books, so I thought I’d update you on them for my post today! As ever, book images go to Goodreads.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #1)

I really am not the biggest fan of Wimpy Kid but the children really seem to love it and I’m one to go with the children’s passions. This was one of our books we read for pleasure.

The Firework-Maker's Daughter

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this wonderful book. I am not always the biggest fan of Philip Pullman’s writing, but this one was so gripping and the children loved it.

Dear Greenpeace

We used this in our writing lesson as we’ve been learning about environmental issues. It’s a sweet story about a girl who believes there’s a whale in her pond. She writes letters to Greenpeace and they write back to her with some advice.


The Paper Bag Princess

I used this book in a PSHE lesson (Personal, Social, Health). I used it to discuss stereotypes.

How to Live Forever

I absolutely loved this book which we’ve read as part of our reading books. I am a big promoter of picture books to children as there’s some really detailed picture books with complex issues that are aimed at older children. We had this massive debate about immortality. It was fantastic.

What do you think of the books we’ve read recently? Have you read any of them?

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Demon Dentist

Demon Dentist

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

Thoughts:

I have been loving reading David Walliams for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge. He is a fantastic author. I know the children in my school adore reading his books. I truly do think he is the closest modern writer to Roald Dahl. He certainly writes in a similar vein. I was excited to read Demon Dentist. It is quite a big book at over 400 pages long, but it doesn’t take long to get through.

Demon Dentist, as you might get from the title is quite a scary book for younger children. It’s about a crazy dentist ripping young children’s teeth out! I would definitely not give this book to a child that had a dentist phobia! Ha! Instead of the tooth fairy leaving a shiny coin, terrible things are left under children’s pillows. Like stuff of nightmares. Dead slugs, a live spider? *vomit*. It’s not a pleasant read!

Tony Ross has done a fabulous job with the illustrations. They are quite dark and sinister, especially the dentist and her cat Fang! I really do think this book is not one for the younger, more sensitive child.  I can imagine it freaking me out when I was younger, but my class (7-9 year olds) have read and enjoyed this book. Perhaps they’re more hardy than I give them credit for. Or I was a wimp as a child? That’s more likely!

I’ve come to expect some sad elements in book by David Walliams. There is another sad side to this story, but I personally think it’s good that David does deal with sadness. It’s so important for children to learn that life isn’t always happy. So many children experience hardship and I think it’s vital for it to be represented in literature that they’ll read and can relate to.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE. Her review will be up over the weekend!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Enchanted Wood- Enid Blyton

Banned Books #57- Uncle Bobby’s Wedding

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Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen.

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Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
First published: 2008
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2008 (source)
Reasons: homosexuality, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: No, no and no some more. I get so wound up when a book as sweet and inoffensive like this is challenged on grounds of homosexuality. I don’t understand it that as recently as ten years ago (which still feels to me like yesterday!) that individuals were challenging books for children because it featured gay characters. I think I would understand (but definitely NOT accept) the challenging if it was in less enlightened times when homosexuality was illegal and a lot of people had a problem with it. But to use it as a reason to restrict access to a book in the 2000’s. Really?

CHRISSI: What Beth said. I actually find it offensive that this book was even challenged! It is such a sweet story and it’s told in such a gentle way. What message does it send young children if a book like this is challenged/banned? That’s it wrong to have a homosexual in your family? Argh, it makes me so cross. I know a lot of children who do have two mothers and my heart hurts to think that they would believe it’s ‘wrong’. Children should see a representation of every type of family to open their minds and address stereotypes.

How about now?

BETH: I think you can already see from my previous answer that I very much disagree. Since 2008, I would have loved to believe we are becoming more accepting of individuals beliefs and desires but sadly, although I think there has been a lot of progress, there is still a lot more work to do. There will always be people who have quite extreme ideas about what is right and what is wrong and they’re entitled to their own opinion but when they use it to try and change other people’s minds/hurt the target individuals that they have a problem with, that’s when I have a problem too.

CHRISSI: I think there’s so much work to be done. Children are so much more accepting than adults and I wonder when that acceptance starts to get lost, or why it gets lost. When is it that we begin to judge so much? I know children don’t. When I get asked why a certain person has two mothers/fathers in class, the children accept it without questioning. Books like this NEED to be about so children know that it’s not abnormal to have a different family set up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I found this book to be a very adorable and informative read, especially for younger children. It’s a fantastic way of introducing children to LGBT issues and the fact that people should be free to love/marry whomever they want. I would be happy to read it with any children I come across and would be delighted to see it in schools, available for children to enjoy.

CHRISSI: It’s adorable and I’d be happy to read it to any child in my school!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!