Tuesday 20 February 2007

The Scrotum, the Newbery Prize and the Librarian

"But you won’t find men’s genitalia in quality literature … at least not for children"

Miffed librarian
So have you heard about the scrotum, the Newbery Prize and the librarian?

Apparently some U.S. librarians are so offended by the word “scrotum” in the first few pages of Newbery winner The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron that they’ve decided to take it off their shelves. American message boards and blogs are buzzing alternately pro and con, with indignation and bile.

You can get a good flavour of the discussion from the comments on Fusenumber8’s blog titled Oh, Doggone It (the scrotum in question belongs to a dog).

YA author Scott Westerfield writes an amusing riposte then invites his readers to propose their "favourite dorky-dirty words".

Susan Patron who was "shocked and horrified" when the controversy reared its ugly head out of a New York Times article, wrote in Publishing News:
If I were a parent of a middle-grade child, I would want to make decisions about my child's reading myself—I'd be appalled that my school librarian had decided to take on the role of censor and deny my child access to a major award-winning book. And if I were a 10-year-old and learned that adults were worried that the current Newbery book was not appropriate for me, I'd figure out a way to get my mitts on it anyway
Patron should know. Being a librarian is her day job.

And here for your reading pleasure (or otherwise), a list of children’s books with the word scrotum in it.

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