Thursday, May 03, 2012

Pulled? Banned? What? The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake?

A couple of days ago, word was that in Lebanon, PA, the Annville-Cleona School District was taking a closer look at Amy Timberlake's picture book, The Dirty Cowboy, illustrated by the talented Adam Rex. Upon receiving complaints from a parent, the school board had insisted the book be pulled from the shelf at Cleona Elementary School.

The librarian--are they not heroes, librarians?--protested. The board voted to remove the book anyway. Oh, and they're also shutting down the library program and placing all three librarians on furlough. Says something about where books rate, in their estimation.

The said parent, according to a story in the Lebanon Daily News, was of the opinion that the illustrations in the book would lead to children concluding that nudity was okay. And that would lead to children feeling that pornography was okay.

Hmm, so help me understand this. Here we have a picture book about a bath. A dog. A cowboy. An extended joke about getting clean and its potential hazards for a habitual slob. I will point out that while admittedly, the cowboy has to take his clothes off to bathe (well, don't you?) there is nary a naked rear end visible in this book. Adam Rex has been cleverly circumspect in that matter. The laughs are all drawn from what we can't see.

Here's a video of the book being read during the 5th annual Celebration of Reading event. And a post on the pulling/banning/exiling/whatever this is from Elizabeth Dulemba's blog.

And one more thing. I'm beginning to feel a little personally involved in this whole business. Not only because I am a writer and sensitive to the  notion of books being pulled off shelves. Not only because I love family stories and this is one, for sure. But its origins go back to Silver City, New Mexico. My neck of the southwest! Just look at this wonderful book trailer in which Amy talks about where the story came from.



I am just baffled. These people have never obviously taken their children to an art gallery. No Manets and Renoirs in these kids' worldview. No Greco-Roman sculpture. 

Oh, and I really, really hope those librarians don't lose their jobs.



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