Banned Books #27 Bone by Jeff Smith

Banner made by Luna @ Lunaslittlelibrary

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Bone by Jeff Smith.

Bone Complete Set, Volumes 1 9: Out From Boneville, The Great Cow Race, Eyes Of The Storm, The Dragonslayer, Rock Jaw, Old Man's Cave, Ghost Circles, Treasure Hunters, And Crown Of Horns

Synopsis:

Three modern cartoon cousins get lost in a pre-technological valley, speanding a year there making new friends and out-running dangerous enemies. Their many adventures include crossing the local people in The Great Cow Race, and meeting a giant mountain lion called RockJaw: Master of the Eastern Border. They learn about sacrifice and hardship in The Ghost Circles and finally discover their own true natures in the climatic journey to The Crown of Horns.

Bone, Volume One (Issues 1-6) by Jeff Smith
First published: 1993
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2013 (source)
Reasons: political viewpoint, racism, violence

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

BETH: I can’t believe this graphic novel is over twenty years old! It was first published in 1993 which doesn’t seem that long ago to me and I don’t think attitudes have changed too much in the past twenty years so, as with most of our banned books, I don’t agree with the reasons for it being challenged when it was originally published. I was struggling with reasons why this book had been challenged as I read it and I deliberately don’t look at the reasons why until I write this part of the review. To be honest, I’m pretty dumbfounded. The violence – yes, I get to a point…but political viewpoint and racism? I must have been reading a different book?

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I was really searching for a reason why this book was banned. I read it over a week ago and nothing has stuck in my mind for a reason why it should be banned. Political viewpoint and racism- I really couldn’t pick out ANYTHING, so if anyone does know why then please enlighten me! Yes, there were certainly some violent scenes but nothing overly shocking, although I can understand why some educators wouldn’t want it in their classroom or libraries.

How about now?

BETH: In a open, liberal society (we would hope!) there’s even less reason for any book to be banned or challenged (the exception is if it is being considered as a taught text for some age groups in schools). As I mentioned above, I struggled with two of the reasons for this graphic novel being challenged as I don’t really remember any instances of either political viewpoint or racism in the narrative! The only thing that made me a bit wary of it being available for all age groups is that some of the monsters in it, known as the rat creatures, are a bit scary and I can imagine it being a bit too frightening for certain children. I still think it should be available in case they fancy scaring themselves a bit though!

CHRISSI: I have said before that censoring a book can make children (and adults alike) more keen to try it out. Like Beth, I understand that the violence and scariness might be unsuitable for certain children, but in the main part, I don’t see that it should be banned now. Children can see much worse on the TV, in the news, or computer games.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: This was a bit of a strange one for me. I liked the artwork and some of the characters like Thorn and her grandmother were very endearing, (others very irritating) and I did laugh out loud at a couple of points in the story. However, I wouldn’t rush to read the next one in the series. Apparently Neil Gaiman is a fan though, which makes me slightly more curious to read on.

CHRISSI: I didn’t really like this book. I wasn’t hooked by the story. The artwork was good, but it didn’t capture my attention.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Maybe!

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!

The Nao Of Brown

The Nao of Brown

How did I get it?:
I bought it at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights

Synopsis:

Twenty-eight-year-old Nao Brown, who’s hafu (half Japanese, half English), is not well. She’s suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and fighting violent urges to harm other people. But that’s not who she really wants to be. Nao has dreams. She wants to quiet her unruly mind; she wants to get her design and illustration career off the ground; and she wants to find love, perfect love.

Nao’s life continues to seesaw. Her boyfriend dumps her; a toy deal falls through. But she also meets Gregory, an interesting washing-machine repairman, and Ray, an art teacher at the Buddhist Center. She begins to draw and meditate to ease her mind and open her heart—and in doing so comes to a big realization: Life isn’t black-and-white after all . . . it’s much more like brown.

Thoughts:

My sister Beth and I are trying to read more graphic novels, so when we attended our second reading spa at Mr B’s Emporium we asked for some graphic novel recommendations. Ed recommended The Nao of Brown amongst some others. I was really intrigued after he discussed the book, so we decided to buy it!

The Nao of Brown centres aroune Nao Brown who is a Hafu, she’s half Japanese and half English. Nao is in her late twenties, she shares a flat with a nurse and works in an adult Japanese toy shop. Nao has obsessive compulsive disorder. She is plagued by intrusive thoughts which can often be violent. One particuarly disturbing scene that comes to my mind is when Nao imagines attacking a pregnant woman-killing the baby. Nao is searching for love and becomes obsessed with Gregory. The story follows Nao’s love life and her battles with her OCD.

This story really is grim at times, yet there’s something about it that kept me turning the pages. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Nao. I think it’s quite a unique story even if it can get a little muddled at times. I don’t think it’s the clearest or strongest storyline that I’ve read, I also didn’t enjoy the ending at all, but it’s well worth reading if you don’t mind a strange tale. It may have a dark edge, but there are also some great humorous moments which I appreciated.

The art in this graphic novel is simply beautiful. It’s got such detailed watercoloured art work. I often spent some time just looking at the pages admiring the art!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Whilst this graphic novel wasn’t my favourite to read, it was still highly engaging and unique!

Banned Books #23 Drama by Raina Telgemeier

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Welcome to our banned books feature where this month Beth and I have read Drama by Raina Telgemeier.

Drama

Synopsis:

PLACES, EVERYONE!

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!

Nimona

Nimona

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Thoughts:

I had Nimona on my radar for a long time now. I have recently started to get into graphic novels and picked up a copy of Nimona when I noticed it around a few blogs. I’d heard amazing things about it, so in the midst of a book slump, I decided to pick it up. I thought Nimona was a funny, intriguing, action-packed read.

Having not read a lot of graphic novels thus far, I can’t really compare the art work. I did really enjoy Noelle Stevenson’s style though. It was bright, simple and caught my eye. It certainly captured my attention.

Nimona is all about villains vs heros, but certainly not villains as you might expect them. As you read the story you realise the villains aren’t great people, but at the same time, you end up rooting for them. Nimona is a shapeshifter, but there’s so much more to her character than I ever anticipated.

The story is action-packed. I was expecting a lighter read, but it really is quite dark at times. There were some lovely moments throughout and some wonderful humour too. A perfect combination. It’s perfect at playing around with fantasy and fairy tales.I raced through the story, wanting to know what was going to happen next. I would definitely read more from this talented writer!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic graphic novel which many YA fans will adore!

Banned Books #21 Saga Volume 1 (Chapters 1-6) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

banned books

It’s the last Monday of the month which means it’s time for our Banned Books feature. This month we read Saga, Volume 1 which includes chapters 1-6.

Saga, Volume 1

Synopsis:

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

First published: 2012
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

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

BETH: Okay, so here’s where things might get a little bit interesting. I am very much against the idea of ANY book being banned as we should all have the freedom to read anything we desire without restrictions or fear of recrimination but ever since starting this feature and with what I’ve learned from my sister as she became a primary school teacher, I can see why books might be challenged in certain situations and with certain age groups. I’m afraid Saga is one of those graphic novels that I can understand why it might be appropriate to restrict access in schools for the younger children. I think it’s probably one of those books it would be terrific to discover as a teenager (and perhaps either hide from your parents or share with your parents if they are particularly cool!)

CHRISSI: I TOTALLY understand why it is challenged. I don’t think it’s particularly a book for teenagers even though I’m sure they’d lap it up if they found it. It’s incredibly explicit and definitely geared towards adults. It even says in the synopsis ‘sexy subversive drama for adults.’ Sure, teens may really enjoy it and have a good giggle. Like Beth says, I can imagine some discovering it and hiding it from their parents. I’m all for them reading it eventually, but being promoted in a school? No. Just no.

How about now?

BETH: As this book is a relatively recent release, please see previous answer. I have a bit of an issue with one of the reasons for the challenge though, the anti-family one, as from what I’ve read so far and that’s only the first six chapters, there is a clear family in the novel – Alana, Marko and baby Hazel, the mother and father despite being two aliens from separate planets who are in the midst of a very bloody war, seem to have a very loving and protective relationship. Just because something in literature isn’t the conservative “norm,” doesn’t make it “anti-family,” in my opinion and it makes me cross when this is brought up, especially as a reason to avoid a particular piece of literature. The other reasons, well I have to admit to being shocked by exactly how graphic this novel gets. I was going to reproduce an example in the post but don’t want to intentionally offend anyone. Maybe just do what my sister and I did and flick through a copy in your bookshop? Warning – you may snigger uncontrollably.

CHRISSI: Oooh, look at Beth on her soap box there. I have to say, I agree with her though. There is a family involved. It’s not a conventional one, but it’s a family nonetheless. I know there are some pretty strange family units where I work and that’s everyday life, not another world! I do agree with the explicit, sexual content and offensive language bit though. There’s plenty of it in there, so if it’s likely to offend you then I’d stay clear…

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: As soon as I heard about this book and as soon as Chrissi and I found ourselves a copy in Foyles (marvellous UK bookshop) to look through I knew I had to have it and add it to our banned books list for this year. I enjoy reading a diverse range of fiction and we both desperately wanted to get more into graphic novels, a genre we have both been tentative about approaching in the past. I’m so glad I’ve finally started the series, I can see it being something I will carry on with and look forward to future releases. The artwork is amazing, the story original and intriguing and I really enjoyed the anticipation of flipping over a page – it was soon guaranteed that there would be something to surprise, shock or indeed, inspire me!

CHRISSI:  I am really jumping on the bandwagon with graphic novels. I really didn’t think Saga would work for me. I’m not heavily into fantasy, I don’t usually read gore-y, violent stuff but for some reason I really enjoyed Saga. I think this is largely down to the artwork and the shock factor!

Would you recommend it?

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Through The Woods

Through the Woods

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

Thoughts:

I’m really getting into graphic novels! I never thought they were for me, but I’m always happy to be proved wrong. I’ve found that they quite often get me out of reading slumps or that they’re good books inbetween longer reads.

I enjoyed these stories from Emily Carroll, however they weren’t all as good as each other. Several days after finishing the book there’s one that has really stuck in my mind which is A Lady’s Hands Are Cold. I can’t stop thinking of it. It really did unsettle me! I have such a vivid imagination and I thought Emily Carroll’s stories were wonderfully creepy! It probably wasn’t the best idea to read it so late at night, but I really couldn’t put it down!

The illustrations in Through The Woods are so stunning. I loved the colours used and they fit the story so wonderfully. Every story is different from another and the story is often open to the reader’s interpretation. Some might get frustrated by them though. There’s no resolution in any of the stories.

I think you’d enjoy this graphic novel if you’re into fairy tale stories like Brothers Grimm, if you’re into horror and creepy stories. The stories feel old fashioned yet contemporary at the same time.

Would I recommend it?: 
Yes!

A creepy graphic novel which would be perfect for a Halloween read!

Banned Books #19- Perespolis by Marjane Satrapi

banned books

Welcome to the first Banned Books feature of 2016. Beth and I take on reading a banned book and then answer questions about it.

This month we read Perespolis by Marjane Satrapi.

The Complete Persepolis (Persepolis, #1-4)

Synopsis:

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.

Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.

First published: 2007
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint.
Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions.”

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

BETH: For our first banned book of the year, Chrissi and I have chosen a graphic novel, partly because we have always wanted to try one and perhaps broaden our reading horizons and partly because the subject of this memoir fascinated us. It’s one of the more recent books that has been challenged/banned in schools and I don’t believe viewpoints (both political and religious) have changed that much since its publication in 2007 but I have to admit to being slightly taken aback at some points through the novel. I wasn’t necessarily shocked or disgusted however… it made me more intrigued to read on.

CHRISSI: Yes. I can totally understand why a book like this is banned in schools. I think I’m looking at that from a teacher viewpoint though. I don’t see how this book could be comfortably taught in a school. I mean, I’m all for challenging children’s thoughts and mindset and exposing them to a range of material and subject matter, but I’m not so sure I would feel confident to use this book if I taught teenagers.

How about now?

BETH: The fact that this book is still on the banned/challenged list as recently as 2014 is a dead give-away that the subject matter could be slightly sensitive depending on your own moral viewpoints or religious affiliation. As an agnostic myself, I did not find anything in it that alarmed me too much. I went into it knowing ashamedly very little about Iran’s tumultuous history and I did feel like I got a lot out of it educationally speaking. I think nowadays after everything that is going on in the world some people might find a book like this offensive, depending on your religious beliefs. Marjane is an independent, intelligent and forward-thinking woman who after seeing her country at war and having family members in jail/executed is stridently against fundamentalist regimes and not afraid of saying what she thinks. I found her a very brave and intriguing woman and enjoyed seeing how her life developed from childhood. Some of the graphic depictions did make my eyes pop out a little but this made me want to read on, if anything.

CHRISSI: Again, yes. I can see why it is challenged, even up to fairly recently. There is so much in this book that could easily offend. It of course, as Beth says, is very educational, but at the same time I think it would offend SO many people. Is it worth takng that risk in school? Perhaps put it in the library, where students and parents can make their own decisions, but to teach it as part of a lesson? No, I wouldn’t agree with it. I do agree with Beth that Marjane is a fantastically brave, intelligent women, so there is a lot to be learnt from it. I learnt a lot as an adult reading this book.

What did you think of this book?

BETH: It took me a little while to get into I have to be honest. At times, it’s quite political and the subject matter is heavy going. I found myself slightly confused at times with the politics of it all, but that’s a personal thing – politics has never been one of my strong points! As I got about halfway through I started to really get into it a lot more and found her life both in Iran and Vienna absolutely fascinating.

CHRISSI:  I found it incredibly heavy going. I know a lot of my friends turn up their nose over graphic novels, thinking that they’re light and fun or babyish, when in fact the subject matter of Perespolis is incredibly deep.

Would you recommend it?

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI:  Yes!