Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books: The Scarlet Letter and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Are American classics found on the banned books list? Most  high school students study and struggle through two of the banned books: The Scarlet Letter and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter was too racy for the 1850s with its sex, love, and adultery.  Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn caused dismay in 1885, from none other than Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women.

Ms Alcott lashed out  in public saying, "If Mr. Clemens cannot think of something better to tell our pure-minded lads and lasses he had best stop writing for them."  Good thing he didn't ,because we would have missed the other Twain writings including fellow banned book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

In 1905, the Brooklyn Public Library banished the book from its collection with this explanation, " Huck not only itched but scratched, and that he said sweat when he should have said perspiration." Twain countered with: "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

It is interesting that in more recent times many of the complaints about Huck Finn were about the references and treatment of Afro-Americans.  Although in the novel, Twain was reflecting the customs and practices of time.

When asked about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Ernest Hemingway commented, "All American writing comes from that."  Thomas Friedman, author of From Beirut to Jerusalem and The World is Flat, certainly agrees.  To explain the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians he quotes the Huck Finn passage about the feud between the Grangerfords and Shepherdsons.

Despite the defense of The Adventures of Huckelberry Finn, from  Hemingway and other well-known authors, the book still remains one of the most challenged books in the U.S.

Friedman, Thomas L.  From Beirut to Jerusalem, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1989.

Why not read some Nathaniel Hawthorne or Mark Twain from your library soon!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Book: Harry Potter

Bless me Albus Dumbledore, the Harry Potter series tops the list for most frequently banned books. Wizards and magic pull the Harry Potter books onto this list. In one year, there were over 25 challenges to remove any trace of Harry from school bookshelves in 16 states. It is now children's fantasy books that are the most frequently challenged books of the new millennium.

Some people cannot see that Harry, Snape, Dumbledore, and “he who must not be named” spring from the imaginative and creative mind of author, J.K. Rowling. These critics claim that the children of today are not able to separate the imaginary world of Harry and his friends from the real world. It is said the witchcraft of the books “clashes with Christianity.”

In addition, what started out as a satire piece in The Onion about Harry Potter as satanic has now been actually cited as proof of it. The famous or infamous opening of the satirical piece is:
“ I used to believe in what they taught us at Sunday School,” said Ashley, conjuring up an ancient spell to summon Cerebus, the three-headed hound of hell. “But the Harry Potter books showed me that magic is real, something I can learn and use right now, and that the Bible is nothing but boring lies.”
This is all a parody, yet some have difficulty accepting that .

The Superintendent of Schools in Zeeland, Michigan directed his teachers to stop using the book as a read-aloud. However, he didn't' stop children from checking the book out of the school library, if they had parental permission. Many challenges have been declined, but it is suspected that controversy surrounding children reading the Harry Potter series will continue.

For available Harry Potter materials, take a look at CDPL's catalog.

In the Gallery: October


From Tuesday, September 28 until Friday, October 29, the Library's Mary Bishop Memorial Art Gallery will host the exquisite HAPPILY COLORED QUILTS of Catherine Stevenson Beemer, formerly of Crawfordsville. The Jewelry of Joanne Kuhn Titolo and the Pottery of Susan Lopez will remain in the Display Cases for a second month. Catherine frequently describes herself as a frustrated artist. In her senior year at Crawfordsville High School, she took a basic drawing class and that was enough to hook her. Growing up she participated in Montgomery County 4-H clubs, sewing flat pieces to dresses. For ever so long, she wanted to be a dress designer, something that frightened her poor mother to the point of sending her to Purdue for an extensive evaluation of abilities and aptitudes. For Catherine, quilting married her curiosity about design, her love of color and her intellectual connections around geometry. She has been quilting since 1995 and officially joined Durham Orange Quilt Guild in 1996. Quilting had to be fit into her busy Montessori teaching career, but holidays and summers found her at her sewing machine. She has availed herself of workshops taught by Kaffe Fassett, Kaye England, Hollis Chatelain, Sharon Craig, Sherry Woods, Judith Dales, Anne Weaver, Jude Spade, Barbara Webster, Amy Stewart-Winsor, Bobbie Eklow, Margaret Miller and many others. Catherine has entered quilts in her local guild shows, NC Symposium, AQS in Nashville, TN, Greensboro's Quilt Show, Asheville Quilt Show, and NC State Fair. This is her first solo show. Liturgical quilts at her church, not in this show, have been an interest of hers. Working with Children to make collaborative quilts has provided opportunities for whimsy. If she had to declare a category for her quilts, it would include bright colors, foundation piecing and a leaning toward art quilts. Now that she is retired, Catherine feels her quilting career has just begun. See you in the Gallery; do come often and stay long enjoying our inside fall colors.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a banned book, how can that be? If you saw the movie you might be pondering that question. Many of the controversial issues were cleaned up in the original movie version with Gene Wilder playing the part of the strange and reclusive Mr. Wonka. However, it was not until after the movie was released that children's author Eleanor Cameron issued her negative commentary on the original book.

The controversy settles around the depiction of the Oompa-Loompas as small Africans (Pygmies)who live in the factory, work for cacao beans, and sing songs that were comparable to war chants. Dahl relates that he never realized that the depiction of the “charming fantasy creatures” would be viewed as racist. He responded by changing the description of the workers in his 1988 revision. The Oompa-Loompas were now described as “knee-high dwarves” with “rosy-white” skin and funny long “golden-brown” hair who came from “Loompaland.”

If you examine the original and the ensuing revisions of the book, you will find illustrations that show the metamorphosis of the Oompa-Loopas. In 1964, they were black African pymgies, who changed to colorless dwarf-like people, to finally, in 1988, to simple cartoon-like beings with hair that points straight-up to the sky.

However, even with the changes in 1988, the controversies were not resolved. In that same year, a Boulder, Colorado librarian actually locked the book in the reference collection because “ the book espouses a poor philosophy of life.” By this time the racist descriptions and illustrations had been changed.

It is not known exactly what was the “poor philosophy of life.” Perhaps it was that Charlie was an undeserving hero. Charlie has no “tremendously positive traits, only an absence of negative ones.” This void was resolved by the movie makers when Charlie was caught making mistakes, but managed to learn from them and thus distinguish himself from the other winners of golden tickets. Another case of Hollywood changing a story to include a high moral message to the audience (Source: Pierce, Cassandra., “Charlie and the Political-Correctness Factory”.)

Want to check out Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at CDPL? Click here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book: Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, by Hoosier native Kurt Vonnegut, was published in 1969. In this novel, Vonnegut recounts his World War II experiences, including surviving the fire-bombing of Dresden (February 1945). This novel, considered Vonnegut's best, has often been  the subject of challenges because of its tone, its use of profanity, and alleged obscene content. It was also one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexuals were also the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Slaughterhouse-five appeared in Time magazine's list of the 100 all-time best English-language novels written since 1923. 

You can find Slaughterhouse-five in the CDPL online catalog. Consider reading more Vonnegut, too, from CDPL!

A film adaptation of the book was made in 1972. Read about it on Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Banned Book: To Kill A Mockingbird

Published in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird, a novel set in the 1930s about a southern lawyer defending an African-American man against an unjust charge of rape, was first banned in 1977 in Eden Valley, Minnesota. Due to the inclusion of racial slurs spoken by several characters throughout the book and the subject matter, To Kill A Mockingbird has continued to be challenged throughout the years.  Many of the challenges and attempts to ban the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel have been unsuccessful.  In fact, in recent polls, librarians have voted the challenged novel "The Best Novel of the 20th Century".

Want to read the critically-praised novel for yourself?  Are you interested in learning more about the famously private author Harper Lee? Perhaps you would like to watch the Oscar-winning film adaption starring Gregory Peck.  Check out CDPL's related materials here.

New to CDPL is the Bloom's Guide on To Kill A Mockingbird. With summaries and analysis, this new guide is a perfect companion to the novel.  Check it out here: Bloom's Guide: To Kill A Mockingbird

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week

Celebrate Banned Books

The American Library Association has declared September 25 - October 2, 2010 as the annual celebration of Banned Books Week!

From the ALA web site: "Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

Have you realized just how many books have been banned in the United States at one time or another? We will highlight a few of them (available at CDPL) during Banned Books Week, so check back soon. And if you just can't wait to see a list (which is not comprehensive, even if it is long!), take a look here:

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

Happy Birthday, William Faulkner!

If you have not read William Faulkner in a long time (or perhaps never!), why not celebrate his birthday by getting to know more about this famous, Nobel Prize-winning American author?

Here are some of Faulkner's works that you can find at CDPL: Faulkner in your library

Read more about William Faulkner in his Biography from

"Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.
Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window."-- W. Faulkner

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Encyclopedias

Check out these new informative titles at CDPL!

The A to Z of the Fashion Industry by Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds edited by Christopher Perrins

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals edited by David W. Macdonald

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

Stephen King was born on September 21, 1947 and is renowned for his horror and suspense fiction. Some of his most popular works include The Shining, The Stand, The Green Mile, and Carrie. You can read his biography at the official Stephen King website.

Want to check out a Stephen King book at CDPL? Take a look at our online catalog!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Samuel Johnson!

Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 – 13 December 1784) contributed greatly to English literature as a "poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer." Read more about this remarkable author in his Wikipedia article. You may be interested in checking him out at CDPL: See some of what we have in our collection.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Genealogy Club of Montgomery County

The Genealogy Club will host the program entitled:

"Keep Your Powder Dry: Revolutionary War & Genealogy" by Ronald L Darrah, Genealogist

September 14 @ 7:00 PM

The program will be held at the Crawfordsville District Public Library in the Lower Level in the Donnelley room.

The Public is invited to all! Call: (765) 362-2242, Ext. 4 or 118 for more information.