Controversy Report: Itâ€™s a Book
I have an uncanny ability (see also: curse) to agree with both sides of an argument. Although I am an avid fan of sports programs where everyone yells their hastily-formed, yet brazenly unwavering opinions at each other, I personally try to avoid blowhard-ism at all costs. I try to see both sides.
Which is why Iâ€™ve waited to say anything about Itâ€™s a Book by Lane Smith, which has been stirring up a bit of controversy lately for its use of the word â€œJackassâ€.
School Library Journal recently published a story describing the book and the hubbub surrounding it. Interesting stuff. Click the image below to read it.
Part of the reason I didn’t feel the need to chime in earlier is because others were covering the topic pretty well.
I agree with Philip Nelâ€™s assertion that Smithâ€™s word choice isnâ€™t simply an â€œeasyâ€ joke.
I concur with What Adrienne Thinks About Thatâ€™s belief that those who don’t like the book shouldn’t bother those who do.
I’m with MotherReader, who expressed that reading the conclusion with youngsters causes a certain level of discomfort.
I can’t argue with A Chair, a Fireplace & A Tea Cozy and Kids Lit who both say that the themes of Itâ€™s a Book make it better suited for readers who are older than the standard picture book audience.
So what do I think? I look at it from an elementary school librarianâ€™s perspective. While I’ll certainly have this book around, I donâ€™t see myself reading it aloud to a group. Am I a prude? Maybe. But I also am not a fan of using what is, in many families, an off-limits word in a group setting. Should the book be in libraries? Yes. Would I read it to my child? No question. And while I’m with Kirkus Reviews in calling the use of the word in question a bit â€œgratuitusâ€, there’s no real harm done here.
What say you?
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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