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Would one word stop you from reading / buying a book?

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Just saw this on PW Children's Bookshelf today:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6416737.html?nid=2788

-Angela
#1 - February 16, 2007, 05:22 AM
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I've been following this. Isn't it absolutely sick. I can't believe it actually. It's not a swear word or anything - it's part of life. I can think of so many other words she could have used. Please people I'd rather have my kids KNOW the real terms.


Alma
#2 - February 16, 2007, 06:10 AM
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I've been following this. Isn't it absolutely sick. I can't believe it actually. It's not a swear word or anything - it's part of life. I can think of so many other words she could have used. Please people I'd rather have my kids KNOW the real terms.


Alma


EXACTLY! 
#3 - February 16, 2007, 06:32 AM

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This really baffles me. When did the correct term for a body part become the same thing as a swear word?
#4 - February 16, 2007, 06:40 AM

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My mom is a nurse so from a very young young age my brother and I heard the proper terminology for genitals, bodily functions etc. I don't understand what there is to fear from that.
#5 - February 16, 2007, 06:40 AM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

Absolutely!  Come on, people!  My kids know the right terms and don't blush when they hear them.  There is nothing disparaging in this reference and nothing crass or irreverent.  But there are plenty of YA books with actually swearing in them...
#6 - February 16, 2007, 06:42 AM
"If you don't get it right the first time, just get it written." ~J. Thurber
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All it means to me is that Susan Patron is in good company. The best books on the planet are controversial. Isn't that why we write--to invoke emotion? If I were her, I'd be cheering. Newbery means she's going to sell a ton; controversy just adds to the bottom line. It's ridiculous, but it's nothing new. Some people just don't know what to do with themselves if they don't have something to complain about or fight over.
Kelly
#7 - February 16, 2007, 06:57 AM
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I'm more concerned with the fact that this issue was raised by a teacher/librarian.  Not some angry, ignorant parent who hasn't read a MG or YA in ten or twenty years, but a librarian who recomends books for young children.  So she is doing her own personal censorship.  That's the part that really scares me!     :sb
#8 - February 16, 2007, 07:04 AM

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It is the proper medical word. It is not profanity.

I am amazed and sad that a good book would be censored because of this.

#9 - February 16, 2007, 07:05 AM
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AooH

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*She additionally voiced concern about the school librarian as censor, limiting reading choices for children, a practice that should be reserved for parents.*

YES!  I love that.

I haven't read the book, I don't know the context of how the word was used, so I can't really argue it one way or the other.  However, I think it's obvious it wasn't used in a nasty way, or it likely wouldn't have been Newbery material. 
#10 - February 16, 2007, 07:11 AM

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It's ridiculous...scrotum isn't a cuss word... it's a legitimate term for a part of the body. Why is this bad? Although I haven't read the book, I did read Fuse #8's blog entry on this here http://fusenumber8.blogspot.com/ (scroll down to the "Oh, Doggone it" entry)...it sounds like it was not gratuitous, but language that fit with the mc and the plot.  And for librarians to refuse to order the book???? Come on. Please. Scrotum, scrotum, scrotum.

Natalie
#11 - February 16, 2007, 07:12 AM
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Natalie, you crack me up.

It would be interesting to know in what context the word was used. It's not a word that just comes up in everyday conversation, unless the curious MC came across the word and asked what it meant. My daughter used to do that all the time, and I'd just give her the straight-up, dictionary version. (Their questions become different as they get older. Now, at 14, she recently asked me what the 'mile-high club' meant. But I digress)

But yeah, librarians of all people. Give me a break. That's scary. But, like someone said, controversy sells more books, (not to mention the Newbery.)

GB
#12 - February 16, 2007, 07:39 AM

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It's amazing what lengths people will go to in order to get a little attention...it's just hard for me to believe that any thinking person in today's world would do this for any other reason!

ETA:  P.S.  I believe Brent from 'As If' blogged on this (well, one them did) -- and he included the quote from the book...it's completely harmless -- something the mc heard all her life because of an incident involving, I believe, a dog (who was bit in the offending area)...and finally she asked someone what it meant.  Now, I haven't read the book, so I don't know if I'm relaying this with 100% accuracy...but still!

and again:  it was Lisa Yee :)  And her blog is very humorous and informative on the subject (livejournal -- lisayee)
#13 - February 16, 2007, 07:40 AM
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 08:09 AM by andracill »
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 :sb  Okay, I'm an elementary school principal, wannabe author, husband and father of 3 young girls. If the worst thing I had to deal with was the use of the word scrotum in a book I'd be doing this all day  :dancing:

If scrotum gets you censored I'm in a lot of trouble! Suggestion for those who find it offensive: check out another book  :horse
#14 - February 16, 2007, 07:59 AM

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Gosh, you couldn't ask for better publicity!
#15 - February 16, 2007, 08:01 AM
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Natalie, you crack me up.

It would be interesting to know in what context the word was used. GB

I have the book right here--"Sammy told of the day when he had drunk a gallon of rum listening to Johnny Cash all morning in his parked '62 Cadillac, then fallen out of the car when he saw a rattlesnake on the passenger seat biting his dog, Roy, on the scrotum."

Sammy is at an AA meeting retelling the day that made him get clean and sober. Later the mc wonders what a scrotum might be--pretty tame stuff if you ask me.
#16 - February 16, 2007, 08:03 AM

CJRay

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So...it was the dog's scrotum. Well now, that changes everything.

I think this is a bunch of hooha over nothing. The character is retelling an event, a dog got bit on his scrotum.

The question I have is did Ol' Roy live?  :eh:

CJ
#17 - February 16, 2007, 08:36 AM

almarrone

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So...it was the dog's scrotum. Well now, that changes everything.

I think this is a bunch of hooha over nothing. The character is retelling an event, a dog got bit on his scrotum.

The question I have is did Ol' Roy live?  :eh:

CJ

****Spoiler***********


yes--Roy lives.
#18 - February 16, 2007, 08:41 AM

kellyr

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Funny that CJ used the word "hoohah", which was recently substituted for the clinically correct term "vagina" in ads for The Vagina Monologues in Atlantic Beach, Florida.

I find the idea of librarians limiting access to the book disturbing, because they are usually the defenders of free speech and the 1st Amendment, and not so much the ones in favor of book banning.  Particularly when the word is in no way profane.  Awkward in some settings? Maybe, but not profane.  And my guess is that if that weren't on the first page of the book, there'd be no issue at all.
#19 - February 16, 2007, 08:48 AM

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I'm glad the dog lived. Maybe he didn't need to be neutered after being bitten.

Sorry, I just find this whole thing funny.  :laugh:

GB
#20 - February 16, 2007, 08:51 AM

As E.B. White writes, "Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason." In my mind, Susan Patron used the "stomach" word. She used the correct word for scrotum. Had she gone for a "tummy" word (I'll refrain from posting examples of such words), I can see how she would have gotten in trouble.

But, people are twitchy and you can't please everyone. My guess is you don't win Newbery Awards without standing up for using the right word now and then.
#21 - February 16, 2007, 08:54 AM
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CJRay

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Funny that CJ used the word "hoohah", which was recently substituted for the clinically correct term "vagina" in ads for The Vagina Monologues in Atlantic Beach, Florida.

Purely coincidental, I assure you.  ::)
#22 - February 16, 2007, 08:58 AM

Allow me to stir the pot:  I wonder. Should all of us go back to the thread on HarperCollins printing O.J. Simpson's book and take the roll call from there?  How many said, "GOOD FOR THEM."  Anybody cry "Censorship!"?  

If you say "That's different." No it isn't.  

Can't have it both ways, folks. If accuse those people who are not purchasing this book of being narrow minded and puritanical, then you're also condemning those who opposed the publication of O.J.'s book of the same thing.

Remember, when you point a finger, three .....

keep writing,
dave r

#23 - February 16, 2007, 08:58 AM
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Scrotum means pouch.  Some rodents have a scrotum in their mouths.

Like others, I'm disturbed most by the library acting as censor, as well as the other librarians who supported her actions.
#24 - February 16, 2007, 09:00 AM
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I think the bigger issue at hand is that a librarian wouldn't put this wonderful book on the shelves because of one word.  I know that librarians cannot buy every single book, but people, this one won a major award.  Censorship belongs to the parents.  I am the gatekeeper for my child, not the librarian.

Lucky is an excellent book and the questionable word is used correctly and IS part of the story.  She does wonder what scrotum means and eventually finds out.  Very innocent, very funny.  We use correct terms for our body parts in our home and there's nothing at all offensive in the way it was used.  My seven-yr-old has read the book and enjoyed it.

Vijaya
#25 - February 16, 2007, 09:04 AM
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Allow me to stir the pot:  I wonder. Should all of us go back to the thread on HarperCollins printing O.J. Simpson's book and take the roll call from there?  How many said, "GOOD FOR THEM."  Anybody cry "Censorship!"? 

If you say "That's different." No it isn't. 

Can't have it both ways, folks. If accuse those people who are not purchasing this book of being narrow minded and puritanical, then you're also condemning those who opposed the publication of O.J.'s book of the same thing.

Remember, when you point a finger, three .....

keep writing,
dave r

The difference between using one anatomical word and an entire book that fans the flames of hate and violence seems big to me. But to block either one is censorship, I agree. It's not just black and white (if I can use that here.)
#26 - February 16, 2007, 09:14 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Vijaya,
  You are correct. Parents ARE the gatekeepers. I truly believe parents should have a say in what their children are reading, but why should a librarian waste money on purchasing a book that the gatekeepers in his/her community will have removed (usually because the principal is afraid to fight the parents or doesn't want the negative press)? I'm speaking specifically of a school library situation, public librarians have a different mission.
  There probably are librarians and teachers out there who are offended by the word, and who won't buy the book because of this. But I'd venture to say there are more who making business decision, just like they decide not purchase books that are not Accelerated Reader. A book that sits on the shelf unread or is removed from the shelf is a waste of money.
Dave
#27 - February 16, 2007, 09:24 AM
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Jaina

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I don't know about you guys, but I object to the use of the word "Cadillac" in that excerpt.


Okay, this is only slightly a little tiny bit off the topic:
Somewhere on this board is a discussion about whether actual "bad" words (not "scrotum") belong in books for Middle Grade readers.  Whether their use should be limited, doesn't matter, makes a book "realistic," sets a "bad example."  Etc.  I believe I argued at that time (this was a few years back) that, "realistic" or not, I felt that including them in MG books was largely unnecessary and perhaps even wrong.  Not that I EVER would ban a book and I don't care for censorship!  I was just speaking to what I felt, in the abstract, was right or wrong for MG.

Now here I am with my second MG manuscript complete and --yikes--where did those choice words come from in the mouth of that one character (not the MC)?  Three or four instances!  What did I do?  I stare at the ms. and one minute decide to take them out and imply them or substitute something else...  The next minute I think Hey, that's the way he talks and he's not a character kids are supposed to admire, so leave them there.

I have to say, all the hoopla over "scrotum" makes me knee-jerk toward the self-censorship route.  If "scrotum" is causing libraries to not shelve the Newbery winner, heaven only knows what their reaction would be to one of the kids in my book using a real "bad" word or two.  It's not like I'm writing YA.
#28 - February 16, 2007, 09:32 AM

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There probably are librarians and teachers out there who are offended by the word, and who won't buy the book because of this.


Really? I mean, really? I have a hard time believing this. That's like people being offended by the word esophagus.

I'm with Sam. I don't think you can equate those two situations, Dave. That's a big simplification.
#29 - February 16, 2007, 09:35 AM
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This issue is absurd, of course, but reminds me of my screenwriting days. Had an option and was doing some rewrites on a "family with children gets mixed up with the mob" story based on a true story. But the production company was thinking movie-of-the-week, which was prime time, and we had to change all the (very) bad guys' cuss words in dialogue to things like "drat" and "scumbag." Ludicrous, of course. How many people point a gun at your head and say things like, "Get your backside into that car!"? It was a creativity challenge, I suppose, but...

Hearing about things like this just makes me WANT to put more edgy language in my books because, for crying out loud, have people like this librarian spent even 10 minutes outside of the library with the people she's trying to hand books to? I feel we need to introduce our adult audiences to the real world of tweens and teens.
#30 - February 16, 2007, 09:59 AM
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