When I heard that my novel The Golden Compass (the name in the USA of Northern Lights) appeared in the top five of the American Library Association’s list of 2007’s most challenged books, my immediate and ignoble response was glee. Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn’t get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could. That, after all, was exactly what happened when a group called the Catholic League decided to object to the film of The Golden Compass when it was released at the end of last year. The box office suffered, but the book sales went up – a long way up, to my gratification.
Because they never learn. The inevitable result of trying to ban something – book, film, play, pop song, whatever – is that far more people want to get hold of it than would ever have done if it were left alone. Why don’t the censors realise this?
Monthly Archives: September 2008
Lovely description of Coleen Salley’s funeral by Deborah Wiles here. Having just experienced my own father’s memorial service at Columbia University this past Thursday, I was especially touched by the music as we ended my dad’s service with a Duke Ellington piece because of his love for big band jazz. (Thanks to Kathy Shepler for the link.)
The exhibit, “Artifacts of Childhood: 700 Years of Children’s Book” at the Newberry Library in Chicago looks absolutely wonderful! In fact, even though I am too far to go see it, I’m certain that it is great because one of the curators is Jenny Schwartzberg who proved her mettle time and again in the fairy tale online grad course I co-taught last summer at Rutgers. This Sun Times article has a few images from the show to give you a taste.
I’m already skittish about what the movie version of one of my favorite books is going to be like. Last year’s movie version of another beloved book and now this article isn’t exactly relaxing me.
Helene had no literary theories — she had literary values. She valued clarity and transparency. She had nothing against style, if it didn’t distract from the material. Her blue pencil struck at redundancy, at confusion, at authorial vanity, at the wrong and the false word, at the unearned conclusion. She loved good writing, therefore she loved the reader: good writing did not cause the reader to stumble over meaning. By the time Helene was finished with me seven years later, I knew how to read a sentence and how to fix one. I knew what a sentence was supposed to do. I began to write my own sentences; needless to say, the responsibility for them is my own.
There on a Mississippi Delta day,
Young Emmett Till would fall so far from grace
That Justice hadn’t anything to say.
No, colored boys should never disobey.
He whistled at a white girl to her face
There on a Mississippi Delta day.
They kidnapped him, two good ol’ boys at play,
A warning to the bravest of his race
That Justice hasn’t anything to say.
They beat him bloody, oh, they made him pay.
They kicked him, shot, and drowned him just in case,
There on that Mississippi Delta day.
Beware self-righteous predators who prey;
They make convenient evil commonplace
When Justice hasn’t anything to say.
The killers were acquitted, by the way,
A verdict Southern virtue would embrace
There on a Mississippi Delta day
When Justice hadn’t anything to say.
Check out asap this fantastic new blog by Nina Lindsay and Sharon McKellar. Nina was my Newbery chair and both Nina and Sharon have done excellent Mock Newberys in the past. This year they’ve joined forces to do one at SLJ. The first few posts are excellent and I’m eager to jump into the conversation and hope many of you do too!
Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go has won this year’s Guardian children’s fiction prize. I thought it was a fabulous book and so am thrilled to bits. Congratulations, Patrick! That said, I would have been delighted if any of the books on the shortlist that I’d read had won. All were stellar.
I’m also amused that it won a “children’s” award because there was a bit of a kertuffle last summer with Frank Cottrell Boyce’s (whose Cosmic which I adored was also on the shortlist) Guardian review of this book. Boyce loved the book, but felt it should be read by adults too and wondered if that would happen if the book was limited to YA sections of bookstores. Hope that it winning a children’s book award doesn’t further limit adult consumption!