Tag Archives: A Year of READING Dangerously

Year of READING Dangerously: #5 Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck has been banned or challenged since its publication in 1937.

Of Mice and Men

Parents wishing to ban the book from the Community High School of Normal, Illinois in  2003  give a typical challenge:

the novel … contains “racial slurs, profanity, violence, and does not represent traditional values.” [120 Banned Books]

And it does, but this relatively short piece of fiction is also a terrific bit of lit.

Steinbeck wrote it as a ‘novel-play’ in three acts with two chapters (or scenes) in each act. So it isn’t surprising that the Of Mice and Men has been adapted for the stage, screen (large and small) and radio. It has even been turned into an opera. The dialog certainly reads like a dramatic stage play. It is gritty and hard scrabbled like the men to utter it.

On our matrix of why a book might be banned Of Mice and Men checks lots of boxes: Racism, Offensive Language, Alcohol, Sexually Explicit, Political Viewpoint, and Violence.

Steinbeck’s utopian dream for Lenny and George of one day owning their own little farm, of living off the land and not being beholding to a boss has been called out by some.

Censors claim that the novel contains crude heroes who speak vulgar language and whose experience exhibit a sadly deficient social system in the United States  [Ibid]

The book was challenged in Chattanooga, Tennessee, because “Steinbeck is known to have had an anti-buisness attitude.” [Ibid]



A Year of READING Dangerously: # 3. The Chocolate War



The Chocolate War

The Chocolate War (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My commute to work is a half an hour each way, so I’m always on the look out for a good book on tape to make the ride more enjoyable. When the library offered Robert Cormier‘s The Chocolate War as an audio book I snapped it up. I’d read The Chocolate War as a teenager, a few years after the book was published in 1974, and I’d seen the 1988 movie, but I’d forgotten how relentlessly tense and tightly written the story is.

The book was challenged because of its unflattering portrayal private Catholic high school, where the weaker boys are bullied not only by the brothers who run the school but by a shadow organization of students called the vigils.

For example, in 1984 The Chocolate War along with another of Cormier’s books, I am Cheese was challenged in New York for being:

Humanistic and destructive of religious and moral beliefs and of national spirit. [120 Banned Books pg 85.]

It has also been banned for Violence, Offensive Language and Sexual Content.

Film poster for The Chocolate War - Copyright ...

Film poster for The Chocolate War – Copyright 1988, Management Company Entertainment Group (MCEG) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Year of READING Dangerously: #20 King and King

Cover art of King & King

Cover art of King & King


King & King is a children’s book  written and illustrated by Dutch collaborators, Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland. It was translated to English and saw its first US publication in 2002. On the brightly illustrated pages we find the story of an aging (and grumpy) queen who has ruled many years and wants to retire. Evidently the prince, her only heir needs to get married before he can take over ruling the country, and he has never met a girl who he loved enough to want to marry.


She made up her mind that the prince would marry and become king before the end of the summer. [– King & King]


Even the Royal Kitty gets in on the match making. Soon all the available princesses are assembled at the gate. But no one seems to fit …until the page announces “Princess Madeleine and her brother, Prince Lee.” The two princes take one look at each other and it is love at first sight.

The book has been translated into 8 languages, has spawned a sequel (King & King & Family) and has been made into a play.

The reason the book was banned / challenged: Homosexuality, Unsuited for age  group.

Groups such as Mass Resistance objected to having the book read in school. While Oklahoma limited access to the book (and other books containing homosexual content) to the Adult Section of libraries.


The last image in the book is of the two kings kissing.

The last image in the book is of the two kings kissing.

NOTE: I have a nice hard copy of this book and no little kids to read it to. If you are interested in adding it to your home library send me a message. It is yours for the price of shipping.

A Year of READING Dangerously — update

I redid the master list (here in three parts) so everyone could see what was read, what was being read, and what was available at the (local Hereford) library.  Check the list and see if you can help us out on our collective read. I really do not want to read Captain Underpants… so if some one could take that on I’d be very grateful.

The first Captain Underpants book.

The first Captain Underpants book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to play along… read a book on the list (it counts if you have recently read the book). Send me a note at: reetsgee@gmail.com telling me a little something about the book, why you chose it, what you liked or didn’t like. Then look at the matrix at the bottom of the blog post and see why the book might have been banned. If  you have a jpeg photo of the book send it along. I’ll happily link to your blog or other web page if you give me the address.


What if there is a book that has already been read that you REALLY want to do? Please feel free to write it up. I’d be interested in seeing your take.

What if I want to keep my review anonymous? No worries, I’ll keep your name off the review. Just let me know.

Banned books block title list

Banned books block title list

Banned books block title list

Books in black on the list are not in the local library and not on my shelf. So if you have them and are willing to loan them please let me know. That would also be most helpful.


This is the matrix I use in trying to determine why a book has been challenged or banned.

This is the matrix I use in trying to determine why a book has been challenged or banned.

A Year of READING Dangerously : 23. The Giver

Maggie comes in with another review, this time it’s 23. The Giver, by Lois Lowry.


We both loved this book and have read it several times. It is a the opening novel of Lowry’s wonderful distopian quartet that also includes Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son. (For the record Gathering Blue is my favorite.)

Here’s the Amazon review of the book:

In a world with no poverty, no crime, no sickness and no unemployment, and where every family is happy, 12-year-old Jonas is chosen to be the community’s Receiver of Memories. Under the tutelage of the Elders and an old man known as the Giver, he discovers the disturbing truth about his utopian world and struggles against the weight of its hypocrisy. With echoes of Brave New World, in this 1994 Newbery Medal winner, Lowry examines the idea that people might freely choose to give up their humanity in order to create a more stable society. Gradually Jonas learns just how costly this ordered and pain-free society can be, and boldly decides he cannot pay the price. [– Amazon]

We weren’t sure why the book would wind up on the banned list so we looked it up on line.  Marshall University posted a list of banned books and cited when and why they were challenged. Here’s the scoop on The Giver‘s “offenses”:

2008 Appalled by the descriptions of adolescent pill-popping, suicide, and lethal injections given to babies and the elderly, two parents demanded that the Mt. Diablo School District headquartered in Concord (CA) eliminate the controversial but award-winning book from the school reading lists and libraries.

2007 Challenged, but retained at the Seaman (KS) Unified School District 345 Elementary School library.

2006 Challenged, but retained at the Seaman (KS) Unified School District 345 Elementary School library.

2005 Challenged as a suggested reading for 8th grade students in Blue Springs (MO). Parents called the book “lewd” and “twisted” and pleaded for it to be tossed out of the district. Two committees have reviewed the book.

2001 Banned for being sexually explicit, occult themes, and violence.

[Marshall Univeristy]


“Maybe,” Maggie added, “although it isn’t on our banned books matrix, the book was banned because the kid is rebellious.” That does seem to be another theme. She added “It also gives a possible future that people might be uncomfortable with.”

Maggie recommends this book for readers 8 and up (with repeated readings often.)

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