>Debra Lau Whelan’s SLJ article on where librarians are shelving The Graveyard Book is classic shit-stirring. The article’s lead asks a question (“Where does the book belong—in the children’s area or in the teen section?”) and then goes on to give selective anecdotal evidence to conclude that any decision to put the book in YA consists of internal censorship. “And that’s against professional ethics.”
Nonsense. If you’re classifying a book that you think appeals primarily to fifth-through-eighth graders (SLJ‘s estimation; Horn Book coded it as sixth-grade up), you are going to shelve it where you think most likely readers will most likely find it. Putting it in the YA section is not necessarily (or even probably) an act of censorship, if that’s where you put all your other middle-schoolish books. (Hell, putting it in adult because that’s where your Gaiman fans are is all right, too.) The fact that a book wins a Newbery Medal does not give it some kind of free pass into the children’s room; remember, the Newbery goes through age fourteen, which, by the ALA definition, includes the first two years of the young adult age range. (The ALA turf war over the twelve-to-fourteen-year-olds is ever with us.) Different libraries serve different populations and make different decisions. I like Pat Scales’ suggestion–multiple copies–but if you’re only buying one, don’t let SLJ’s admonitory finger force you into putting the book where it doesn’t belong.
I agree with Whelan that if you put The Graveyard Book in YA because you’re trying to keep it out of younger readers’ hands, then, sure, that’s censorship. But the article–like her piece with Rick Margolis about the “controversy” inspired by Gaiman’s fuck-filled Twittering–doesn’t give us the whole picture, instead only citing evidence that supports a sensationalized angle. That ain’t reporting.