Surprise Entry Tops List of Year’s Most Controversial Books

Apr 15, 2013  •  Post A Comment

The top selection on a new list of the most controversial books of the past year is a surprise. The Associated Press reports that the list released by the American Library Association places a children’s book, “Captain Underpants,” in the top spot.

One of the favorites to make the list, the erotic trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," a multimillion seller by E L James, came in at No. 4.

The list released today ranks the most "challenged books" each year — “works subject to complaints from parents, educators and other members of the public,” the story reports. “The objections: offensive language, and, of course, graphic sexual content.”

Dav Pilkey’s "Captain Underpants" books were cited for “offensive language, unsuited for age group.” Next on the list are “Sherman Alexie’s prize-winning ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian’ (offensive language, racism, sexually explicit), and Jay Asher’s ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’(drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide),” the piece reports. “Also on the list, at No. 10, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ (sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence).”

Pilkey released a statement responding to the “Underpants” selection, saying: "It’s pretty exciting to be on a list that frequently features Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Maya Angelou. But I worry that some parents might see this list and discourage their kids from reading ‘Captain Underpants,’ even though they have not had a chance to read the books themselves."

The report notes: “The ‘Fifty Shades’ books were released last spring and public libraries in Georgia, Florida and elsewhere soon pulled the racy romance trilogy or decided not to order the books, saying they were too steamy or too poorly written. Local library representatives at the time denounced the novels as ‘semi-pornographic’ and unfit for ‘community standards.’"

The library group’s Office for Intellectual Freedom defines a challenge as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness,” the story reports.

The piece notes that the list “included some works highly regarded in the literary community: Morrison’s ‘Beloved,’ winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Alexie’s novel, a National Book Award winner; and a book club favorite, Khaled Hosseini’s ‘The Kite Runner’ (homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit). Young adult star John Green was on, for ‘Looking for Alaska’ (offensive language, sexually explicit), along with perennial chart-maker ‘And Tango Makes Three,’ by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, the story of two male penguins who raise a baby penguin. Also on the list were Alvin Schwartz’s ‘Scary Stories’ (unsuited for age group) and Jeanette Wells’ memoir ‘The Glass Castle’ (offensive language, sexually explicit).”

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