Moving moment No. 6

Jake 375x500 Moving moment No. 6Ooh, who remembers this one? In 1982, the library systems of Chicago, Milwaukee, and San Francisco banned Margot Zemach’s Jake and Honeybunch Go to Heaven from their collections (Chicago, from where I followed the whole story avidly, did include it in its two regional research libraries). Unlike the headlines, still popular today, that too-loosely use the term “censorship” to describe any effort to remove a book from a library (it ain’t censorship unless the effort succeeds), this was the real thing: local governments, through their libraries, actively refusing to stock a book because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” This was the book that made me realize that librarians could be their own worst enemies: I recall one librarian interviewed in an NPR story about the flap who actually said, “when WE do it, it’s selection, not censorship.” That is exactly backwards.

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Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comments

  1. Well, I just learned something today Roger. I have long admired Zemach’s art, which received its share of accolades and critical praise. I do not agree with censorship of any kind, and am saddened to read of how it was applied in this instance. I have just investigated and found that only 3 of the 68 library districts we share from have a copy of this book, though my neighboring town of Ridgefield does have one of those copies. A new copy on amazon is selling for a whopping $81 now!

    And yes, I couldn’t agree with you more on what you assert in that last sentence! They do indeed have it backwards!

    Incidentally, I think there was at least a fair amount of indignation when Eve Bunting and David Diaz’s SMOKY NIGHT won the Caldecott, though it never did reach the point of censorship.

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