Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Pop

I checked with the fabulous Young Adult librarian, Karyn Dombrosky, at my library because if there was anyone who would know about the status of Pop and the likelihood of it appearing on the library's shelves, it would be this Goddess of all things pop culture and young adult. Not only had she ordered a copy, she had also read it. She liked it, thought it funny and cute but definitely graphic in the portrayal of sex - although not necessarily in a bad way.

Because it is an uncataloged paperback, there aren't nearly as many hoops to jump through to get the book into the library. But shelving it is another matter, and Karyn wasn't comfortable enough with it to just put it out there. Instead, she plans to turn it over to the branch manager to determine whether it should be shelved in the adult or young adult section. Generally books that have a protagonist that is a teenager and revolve around teenage angst would be shelved in YA, so we'll see.

Karyn then introduced me to Johnny Hazzard by Eddie De Oliveira. The hardcover came out last year but we had just gotten in, again, the uncataloged paperback. Karyn called it the "boy version" of the Pop book - a sexual coming of age story but told from the male perspective. Miraculously the book fell open to a graphic sex scene that included my favorite new phrase, (although I must confess that I'm unsure of its exact meaning) "spank the cheeky monkey."

Then our unrestrained librarian turned the tables on me and asked what I thought as a parent of a young teenager. She is aware that I don't believe in censorship as a rule, and this was no exception. After reading that bit of Johnny Hazzard, my feelings are that I wouldn't bring it home and say hi honey, here's a great book you should read, but on the other hand, I wouldn't mind if my daughter brought it home on her own. Although frankly, I do know other parents that would mind. A lot.

Books that feature sex among adolescents is a touchy subject but I still feel it best to err on the side of openness and availability. If you don't want your child to read certain books, then monitor what they take out from the library or buy from the bookstore or borrow from their friends - but don't ask the library or bookstore not to sell it to anyone else. And even worse, bookstores shouldn't censor themselves; after all, they are in the business of selling books and you can't sell what isn't on your shelves. Leave it up to your customers to decide how to spend their dollars.

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