Marcus, Leonard S. YOU CAN'T SAY THAT! Candlewick (Teen None) $18.99 7, 13 ISBN: 978-0-7636-9036-6
Thirteen prominent authors of children’s and young adult literature talk about one thing they all have in common: All have been the targets of attempts to ban or remove their work from schools and libraries.
Editor Marcus, a noted scholar who interviewed each writer, focuses his introduction on the history of censorship, including a simplistic summation of controversies around Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that spells out the N-word. Each author discusses their work, their personal history, and the reasons why they’ve been censored. Some, like Robie H. Harris and Susan Kuklin, came under attack for discussing sexuality and gender identity. Others, like Angie Thomas and Katherine Paterson, met with objections to swearing (in Thomas’ case, likely a cover for objections to political content). R.L. Stine faced accusations of his books’ promoting the occult. All the authors are positioned as important, powerful voices attacked by conservative censors, and the title may leave readers with the belief that any and all objections are equally wrong. Not taken into account are the subjects of librarians’ weeding collections of titles that may contain offensive stereotypes or booksellers’ deciding whether to stock books criticized for representation seen as harmful. While the text is accessible to middle schoolers, the content may be more interesting for adults in education and the publishing industry, though it disappointingly lacks a fully balanced spectrum of views and sacrifices complexity for a uniform message.
A calm, cohesive take on a hot-button issue. (source notes, selected reading, index) (Nonfiction. 13-adult)