Is Junie B. Jones Talking Trash?, from the New York Times. Oh no! The Junie B. Jones books contain incorrect grammar! Interestingly,
Junie B is actually following the precise rules of English. What she’s not following are the exceptions […] As adult English speakers, we know that the word ‘run’ has an exception in the past tense and is therefore ‘ran.’ But other verbs, you’d just add ‘ed,’ and she’s following that rule to the letter, even though she’s at an age where she has not yet been taught formal grammatical rules. She just knows them.
It still hasn’t stopped parents from trying to ban the books, especially since Junie has also been know to, oh shock! Misbehave!
I just don’t get this. Granted, I’m not an elementary teacher trying to teach reading, but from the sounds of things, most of the complaints are coming from parents. Oh no, books should not be fun. They should be wholesome and good for you.
Regardless that I think the Junie B. Jones series has actual literary value as books and Barbara Park has done something amazing in that they’re honestly funny to both adults and kids… are you seriously never going to let your kids read anything that’s not the equivalent of broccoli, tofu, and brown rice? (As a “grown-up,” and one who’s reasonably adventurous about food, I like all of the above. But at the age of seven, you better believe I would have picked pizza and hot dogs any time.)
If improper grammar is the worst thing you can worry about exposing your child to, um. Can I just say, maybe your priorities need some re-examining? It could be worse! They could be reading about–gasp–homosexuality, like in our next dangerous book!
YA author Maureen Johnson talks more about how The Bermudez Triangle has been labelled in the school district where it was challenged just because it has homosexual content. (By which, I mean two girls falling in love and smooching each other. Yes, the level of explicitness is, scandalously, kissing.) She says:
So I have decided that my Life Policy is zero tolerance. If you try to take one of my books off the shelf for an insane reason like this, I will come running and flailing at you like a maniac. And I just won’t stop. And I promise it will not be quiet or graceful. And I’m going to bring as many of you who want to come with me along, and we can all run flailing and screaming. Decorum is so 2006.
In this case, the running and flailing is contacting the ACLU. Go, her!
And lest anyone get the mistaken impression that it’s only our American neighbours to the South who try to ban books, an elementary school librarian in Kindersley, Saskatchewan objects strongly to a word used in Trouble on Tarragon by Nikki Tate. The book is nominated for various awards and aimed at eight to thirteen year olds.
The word? Not scrotum, this time. Bazoongas.
Here’s a response from Nikki Tate, and some press coverage in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Quill and Quire and the Globe and Mail, and an excellent response from a school library perspective from Stew Savard, a teacher-librarian on Vancouver Island.
Clearly, the lesson to be learned from all of this is that the only appropriate books for anyone under eighteen should only be about nice people who speak correctly and are also all straight. Now if you’ll excuse me, as we already have The Bermudez Triangle, I have to go order a copy of the book with the bazoongas in it, and go see if we need any replacement Junie B. paperbacks…