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Letters to the Editor, July/August 2017, and Response from Roger Sutton

May/June 2017 Horn Book

I’m writing to comment on an article in your May/June 2017 issue titled “Laughter and Resistance: Humor as a Weapon in the Age of Trump.”

My comment regarding this article is in regard to Philip Nel’s language and opinions presented as if facts about President Trump.

It would be one thing to review the book, but why include your political opinions? “Donald Trump has resulted in a sharp rise in bullying at school-harassment of children of color as well as immigrants, Muslims, girls, LGBT students, kids with disabilities.”

REALLY? According to WHO? The Southern Poverty Law Center Nov. 2016 Report…What does this have to do with the book A Child’s First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black besides Philip Nel wants to make himself feel better about his political beliefs.

“A race-baiting, Muslim-banning P-grabbing, narcissistic sociopath as president of the U.S.” What does this have to do with A Child’s First Book of Trump?

The bigger question is why is Horn Book ABOUT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN and YOUNG ADULTS including this type of political information on either party in a magazine geared toward educator librarians for use in selecting quality literature for children and young adult libraries? This states in the article it is a book for adults.

I guess I am merely confused as to why any political opinion type information would be included in your magazine. We are buying Horn Book to be informed about new books for children not politics.

M. Loudermilk
Kingsport, Tennessee

 

As a subscriber to The Horn Book, I look forward to each issue and often read it cover to cover. When I received the May/June edition, I paged through to see what interesting articles and new book reviews awaited me. I have to say that my eye stopped when I saw the illustration of the cover from the book, A Child’s First Book of Trump. Really? In The Horn Book?

When I read the first few paragraphs of Philip Nel’s article, I must say I was dismayed to read it and disappointed in the judgment of the editors. I am all for free speech, but his diatribe about the president does not belong in a distinguished magazine for children’s literature.

Mary Ann Overbeck
Mount Laurel, New Jersey

 

I have been a subscriber for more than twenty-five years and, even in retirement, have enjoyed keeping up with children’s books. I have read your editorials over these many years and always found them interesting and insightful. As I recently received my renewal notice at the same time the latest issue of the magazine came, I was prepared to continue my subscription. Upon reading your editorial [“The Little Old Lady from Boston Meets Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang”], I changed my mind and will not renew…with great reluctance.

Do you presume all your readers and subscribers share your political views? Your negative insinuations about the election of Donald Trump and the effect it had on your humor issue were most disturbing to me. Could it be that half of your readers may have another opinion of our new president and found your remarks insulting? It is just another reminder to those of us who hold conservative views about government that we are not respected. Liberals, who populate the media world, always hold themselves on high moral ground and cannot entertain the notion that there are many views out there…and all need to be held in regard. It is so smug, so pompous, to assume all your subscribers would feel as you do about the new administration. It is just such an attitude that led to the election of Donald Trump…as Peggy Noonan said in the Wall Street Journal, “God bless this beloved land!” Those of us waiting for limited government, fiscal responsibility, and respect for law and our culture are happy with the change no matter what its risks. You have no business insulting a good portion of your readership with your views. It is inappropriate and I hope has resulted in many others canceling their subscription to a magazine we have treasured.

Patricia Tingle
Leetonia, Ohio


Response from Horn Book editor in chief Roger Sutton

The Horn Book has been involving itself in politics since as far back as our second issue (November 1924), where, in reviewing two new books about African Americans, we wrote: “For those of ‘inquiring mind,’ for those who believe that America’s real progress will rest not upon its natural wealth, its inventive power, or its organizing ability, but upon the interest of the people in ethical ideas and the growth of spiritual independence — to these we recommend two books.” And it was a few words from the magazine’s founder Bertha Mahony Miller that inspired the theme of our upcoming Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium, “Resistance: Children’s Books in Troubled Times.” In the January 1946 issue of the magazine, Bertha wrote, “In times like these Resistance means remembering every day the widespread suffering of innocent men, women, and children near and far and helping now. It means bearing in daily remembrance all those who have recently laid down their lives in hope. It means a new sense of world brotherhood — and the will to express it. In the life of the conscience, each day is a crisis.”

I believe those times are these times also. In Donald Trump we have a president who demonstrates neither care for nor interest in education, culture, or human rights, three things at the top of our list. Of course we are going to follow our conscience and resist.

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Comments

  1. Lisa Von Drasek says:

    Response to letters to the editor.
    Children’s Books are never separate from politics and social history. I find the expectation that the distinguished Horn Book be separate from events that have negative effect on the daily lives of its readers absurd and Victorian.

  2. Tandy S. says:

    “Of course we are going to follow our conscience and resist.”

    GO ROGER!

  3. As the Southern Poverty Law Center’s The Trump Effect documents, Mr. Trump’s ascendance poses a real threat to all children — but especially girls, children of color, LGBTQ youth. He and his supporters have enabled — indeed, modeled — racist, sexist, homophobic bullying that targets these children in particular. Silence is complicity. So, thank you, Roger, for following your conscience. RESIST.

  4. Bravo, Roger!

    We stand with you.

  5. Kathy Halsey says:

    BRAVO Horn Book and Roger. TY.

  6. To those who found the article/editorial objectionable — the fact that Horn Book printed these articles does not mean that you cannot hold opposing viewpoints as their readers. If we only read and agree with everything and everyone we come into contact with, there will never be exchanges of ideas and progress. Just keep this in mind: “the liberals” are being bombarded with the current administration’s views in the media ALL THE TIME. AND, I and you and everyone are being affected daily, directly by policies, laws, and regulations put into place by the current administration. So, in a way, the impact on those “liberals” seems a lot bigger than the conservatives’ emotional response to these articles. I’m really happy that your letters are printed — a sign that Horn Book is inclusive and wishes to engage in exploring ideas. I invite you to continue subscribing and reading and responding.

    Please remember as others have already pointed out that Children’s (and perhaps all) Literature cannot ever be truly separated from the creators’ societal and political environment. It transcends, but it does not evade.

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