One of the best thing about reading banned children’s book is they are short and you can breeze through them, thus easily padding my Goodreads Reading Challenge total for the year. I read the often banned The Chocolate War, aimed at high schoolers. Banned because of profanity, masturbation and and very dark, depressing ending. Lord of the Flies has nothing on these school boys. High schoolers know all the swear words, they know about masturbation but since it’s so well-written, perhaps we can overlook the profanity and think about the message. It’s hard letting kids grow up but you have to let them go some time, or else they won’t know how to be grownups.
I read The Wish Giver by Bill Brittain, Newbury Award winner, and banned for thirty years. It’s the story of a strange man who comes to a small town in Massachusetts, and at a church social, puts up a sign that says, “I can give you whatever you ask for for fifty cents.”
It’s Dr. Faustus for kids. I assume it’s been banned by the people who don’t like magic and think it’s real. Magic=evil. OK, if you teach your kids that magic is real, that’s your business. But, c’mon, now.
Three children and one grownup take him up on his wish offer. (And ixnay on the wishing for more wishes. That’s all. Three. Uno, dos, tres. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds.) And, as in all these stories, if you don’t word your wish very carefully, it is going to go horribly wrong.
And horribly wrong it went.
My problem with banning this particular book is that the nervous parents never read it. They heard the word “magic”, ran to their school board and protested. And some spineless school board banned it, also not having read it.
If you read the book, you’ll realize it is saying magic goes very badly for all three kids, exactly the kind of message I imagine these crazy parents would want to impart on their children. It never dawned on them to read the book, arm themselves with the truth instead of being a reactionary book banner. (You Nazi cow!)
It was cute. I kept waiting for the blood and gore until I remembered this is a book for ten-year-olds. I’m not quite in the correct frame of mind for kid lit yet.