Resplendently Scandalicious Scrotaphobias

Allow me to destroy your mind: SCROTUM!

Gee, that was almost too easy.

Okay, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about: There’s a front-page story in the NY Times today about Susan Patron’s Newberry Award-winning book The Higher Power of Lucky.*

The novel starts with a ten-year-old girl named Lucky hearing a conversation from next door. The neighbor’s dog has just been bitten by a snake . . . on his scrotum. (Poor thing.)

Lucky hasn’t heard this word before. “It sounded medical and secret, but also important.” Like any language-loving kid, she finds these secret words fascinating. (Much like my tridecalogism obsession in Midnighters, but along a somewhat different axis.)

Cue the real world.

According to the Times article, has been burning up with this seven-letter kerfuffle. That’s not exactly true, but some school librarians have actually said they’ll ban the book, and the debate has leaked out to various litblogs and library sites. So I thought I’d offer my thoughts.

First some odd but revealing quotes.

The Times reporter writes, “Authors of children’s books sometimes sneak in a single touchy word or paragraph, leaving librarians to choose whether to ban an entire book over one offending phrase.”

Hmm. How does one “sneak” something into a book? Everything in a book is right there in black and white, literally. The only people past whom the contents of a book can be snuck are people who don’t read books. You know, the ones who leaf through them distractedly, looking for reasons to ban them.

Nice of you to adopt their framework, NY Times.

And by the way, the word (cover your eyes!) “scrotum” appears on page one of Lucky. That’s some pretty crappy sneaking. All my snuck-in words are printed upside down on page 217 in invisible ink. (Hint: Lemon juice.)

Also bizarre is the phrase “leaving librarians to choose whether to ban an entire book.” Yes, that’s us lazy authors, leaving librarians to ban our books. Why can’t we ban our own books for once?

A teacher and librarian from Colorado is also quoted: “This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope, but they didn’t have the children in mind.”**

This is just so random. Who else would Susan Patron have in mind, except children? Children who find fascination in new words. Word-nerd kids for whom the mysteries of the body and those of language are wrapped up together. And does anyone really believe Patron is trying to get on Howard Stern with this?***

But I don’t mean to be harsh, especially not on school librarians! I know you have a tough job. You have all the usual trials of working at a school, plus tons of crackpots hanging around waiting to pounce on every word in every book you shelve. I also realize that librarians have more at stake in this than I have. Like, their jobs. And I get that my books are YA, while Lucky is middle grade, and will admit that I haven’t ever used the word “scrotum” myself. (The subject hasn’t come up.)

But let’s remember that we all have children in mind. They are our readers, without whom we’re just wasting our time. No authors I know are trying to sneak, offend, or randomly envelope push. We’re trying to write the best, most relevant books we can.

That often means balancing the needs of kids who want to read their own stories in their own vernacular with the needs of parents who don’t want their cotton-candy invented memories of what childhood is like disturbed. This is a very hard line to walk.

Susan Patron walks this line by telling an uplifting tale of surviving the loss of a parent, while throwing in one amusing anatomical term. I walk this line by writing about bomb-throwing, eco-terrorist, self-harming, champagne-drinking, tattooed heroines, while never using dirty words. (The astonishing thing is that I get away with it and Patron doesn’t. Even with the age difference, this tends to support what I said about some folks scanning rather than reading.)

But we all face the same problem: it’s impossible to please everyone. So all we authors and librarians can ask of each other is, yes, to keep children in mind. Especially these children:

The word-loving kids, for whom silly seven-letter terms that make adults blush are pure magic, the sort that animates a lifetime of language acquisition.

The kids who face abuse and addiction at home, whose only way to understand what they’re going through is through narratives that will curl your hair and mine.

The bomb-throwing kids, for whom tales of future revolution give a framework for their own necessary confrontations with authority.

The vacuum readers, who consume anything and everything, and thereby learn to filter out whatever they’re not ready for.

As long as we keep all these kids stocked up with lots of books, we’re doing a pretty good job.

Now a question for my teen readers, for whom this post was no doubt really boring:

What’s your favorite dorky-dirty word? The kind that makes you giggle, and you’d get vaguely in trouble if you used it at school.

Mine is “dingleberry.”

*Full disclosure: The publishers of Lucky are Simon & Schuster, one of my 29 publishers worldwide. Dude! I just counted : I have 29 publishers!

** “They didn’t have the children in mind?” Why “they”? Lucky is written by one author. Is this a conspiracy? Why am I always the last to be informed of the scrotum-sneaking children’s literature conspiracies? I pay my dues! And why are people always worried about “the children,” and not just “children”? What’s up with that?

***Some people seem to subsist entirely on outrage, and think everyone else is constantly trying to outrage them, because we want to get famous or something. Trust me on this: Most of the time, we had no clue you’d be outraged!

93 thoughts on “Resplendently Scandalicious Scrotaphobias

  1. when will knee-jerk reactionaries realise that children just don’t (never did?) live in an enid blyton novel anymore…
    that’s not to say there is no place for ‘nice’ books or that we shouldn’t have any boundaries – but come on, all that fuss over one little scrotum???

    oh, and mine is “bosom”

  2. hi scott, i don’t swear much in my adult books and haven’t in my first ya book, but only because it’s never been necessary.

    i occasionally write for ellery queen’s mystery magazine which doesn’t tolerte swearing at all. i’m okay with that, but it’s pretty weird (BOLLOCKS) that i’ve killed people in gruesome ways, including a breakfast knife through the eye but can’t have someone saying bugger! there’s something messed up about that.

    p.s. being an author, i’ve managed to sneak the word bollocks into this reply – bet you didn’t notice.

  3. Scrotum is neither swearing nor a dirty word. I’ve also learned, in my conversations with hunting dog owners, that because of the way dogs tend to run around, you know, NAKED (shocker shocker!), with their scrotums out in the open and vulnerable and even DANGLING when they are performing various bodily functions, that it is a pretty common place for dogs to get bit. Also, the noses, because they like to stick their noses into things

  4. Personally, I do not believe in banning any book. It is wrong, I tell you, wrong! Unknowingly, my English teacher had us read only banned books in our class last year. He really only knew that one of them was banned. He only realized it this year when I was talking with him about the evils of Lord of the Flies and 1984.
    My favorite word? Hmmm… mine is ‘meconophagist’ which really doesn’t fit the question, but I am no longer allowed to use it at school. I said it one too many times…

  5. The people who find LUCKY offensive are really making something out of nothing.

    While watching A WALK TO REMEMBER for the nth time today, I realized it is now ‘dated’ — because it mentions Pluto. 🙂

  6. Hey scott,
    I don’t think that banning a book is acceptable. Books can help you learn. My point is that the people who are complaining need to stop. If they don’t like it then they shouldn’t be reading it. DUh
    So, about these secret words on pg 217 and using lemon juice?

  7. Sorry, but I have to do the Simpsons’ quote… “Think of the children! Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!”

    I remember my old-fashioned history teacher for my sophomore year got so embarrassed saying things even remotely “dorky-dirty.” She said “boompa” instead of butt and “wah-bimbas” instead of boobs. We all found it extremely amusing when we had to go over the characteristics of ancient fertility statues.

    As for my favorite word…I dunno. My friends and I had stupid words for boobs like “breasticles” and “ta-tas.” Slightly worse than “dorky dirty,” I suppose…

  8. I love this blog post. I hate how there are the books that hedge around saying the “Dirty” words when we hear them everyday at school. Protect us? Come on. The worlds not sweet and cuddly. Unless you’re a My Little Pony. Then everythings happy! I also loved how it’s a conspiracy. That made me laugh. 😀

  9. I’ve cleaned my destroyed brains up off the keyboard to submit my favorite dirty-not-dirty word.


  10. P.S.

    Sorry about the wierd post wording. I started the first part about two hours before the second part. I get distracted to eas

  11. I find it most peculiar that anyone should be upset over a word like ‘scrotum’, which as has been pointed out, is an anatomical term and occurs in the book completely in context.

    What do these people think is going to happen if this word is unleashed into the minds of 10 year-olds? Besides them expanding their vocabularies that is. Imagine if they were themselves bit on the scrotum by a snake but couldn’t tell anyone where the injury occurred.

    It did bring back memories of a demolitions course I did in the Army Reserve where our sergeant instructor would write “You stupid scrote” on our safety test papers if we got something wrong. I’m guessing these book-banners would really hate that diminutive form. Funnily enough, it made us pay more attention than “Wrong answer.”

    I still get the occasional e-mail from people complainging about the use of ‘birdshit-caked blanket’ in the first few pages of ‘Shade’s Children”. Apparently I should have used “bird doo doo-caked quilt” or something, which would of course completely fitted into a harsh, post-apocalyptic story.

  12. I think this is ridiculous. Banning a book because of one word? If this rule was applied to every book in existence, then library shelves would be practically empty. I really doubt that children are going to be scarred for life because they read the word “scrotum”. They would either not understand what it means and automatically move on, or research it and find the truth. And is the truth that life changing? If I found out what a scrotum was at that age, I would probably just say “ew” and move on; I doubt many kids would go “OMG! Life as I have known it has been changed forever! I’m going to go into a catatonic state because of the great offense this word has had on my existence!”

    The whole “authors are slipping in words to corrupt the minds of the masses” is laughable as well. If I were an author, I would totally make it my goal in life to figure out ways to insert pseudo-dirty words in my novels to damage the minds of children. Plots? Who cares about plots? Let’s all find clever ways to cause corruption! Hurray! *eye roll*

    That turned into a rather long rant. I apologize.

    “Buttocks” has always made me giggle for some reason, so I guess that’s my dorky-dirty word.

  13. ha1 that is really funny. what would make someone ban that from a library? then they would have to take out all books with odd material(the notebook). my favourite dorky-dirty word is either dingle-berry or douche bag(spelling?). this friend of mines last name is appleberry, so his nickname is dingleberry. needless to say, he hates it.

  14. But Scott! Dingleberries is a tridecalogism maybe you can sneak that one in–if you haven’t already I may have missed it.

    I wonder if these censors feel the need to remove the word “balls” from the library shelves cause sports books would be so outa there.

    I have two words to share:
    Nipples–because so many creatures and things have them.
    Truculent–which is not dirty at all but can certainly sound that way (she is soooo truculent!) and because I like feisty people.

    I’ll buy a copy of this week The Higher Power of Lucky and donate it to the library.


  15. Okay, as soon as I saw the word “scrotum,” I giggled. I don’t see the harm in kids reading something like that in a book. I definitely think sheltering kids from stuff like that only hurts them later on. I mean, look at what it did to me. I’m laughing because we’re talking about the word “scrotum.” It made my day. It’s a sad world.

  16. I am a librarian. What a crock!!!! This is so silly. These same librarians probably pasted diapers on the naked little boy (full frontal) in “In the Night Kitchen”. It is not a bad word. It correctly names a normal piece of anatomy. What is wrong with that????? Children NEED information … correctly named body parts happens to be good information and if that also includes a great story, well wonderful!!!

  17. Its not like we here a whole bunch of crap like that at school if we read it in books well hear it at school

  18. Scott, I poured the lemon juice on page 217 like you said, but all it did was make my book soggy D:. It does smell very nice now, though.

    By the way, I don’t have a favorite geeky dirty word, but my sister does. It’s ‘chocha’. Hah.

  19. Oh, katerate, you’ve erased the message!

    When one uses lemon juice to compose a secret message, one simply writes the message in lemon juice on white paper. The ‘wet spots” dry away, and the message is invisible! Then you simply heat the paper (usually with an iron on low) and ta-da! the words reappear.

    But don’t feel bad. I didn’t get to read the secret message either. I was reluctant to use an iron on my book, considering it could have gone rather wrong. Besides, if Scott wants to sneak something into his books, my subconscious doesn’t mind, and the rest of me doesn’t know, so what’s all the fuss about?

    I was (still am) one of those “vacuum kids”. I read EVERYTHING, much of which my mother doesn’t know about. (She would freak…and I don’t want to stress her out.) I have yet to be “scarred” or “corrupted” by anything, though I have been affected by various books. Isn’t that the point?

    Lol, my dorky-dirty word is……


    As in,

    “I would like the chicken, please.”
    “Will that be a thigh or a breast?”

    So, yeah.


  20. Dude. I definitely read “this tends to support what I said about some folks scanning rather than reading” and realized I’d completely scanned past that part. Rereading was in order.

    And I just shelved about 10 copies of this book today (very pretty cover) so, it’s true what they say about controvercy selling. I wanted to read it when I read in the summary about crossing a desert with a dog (presumably the bitten one?) and the world’s largest survival kit. If it says “scrotum” in it, even better! Interesting fact: it’s shelved within spitting distance of the “oh crap, I’m going through puberty” books. So, if anyone has any questions, they shall easily be resolved.

    As for my favorite “dirty” word, it’s ‘dork.’ Apparently, it’s a slang term for the (quick, the children, close your eyes!) penis. In third grade, someone told me that it is used specifically for describing a whale’s penis. Man, everything has a word these days.

  21. if my mom knew what was in some of the books ive read she might kill me

    my favorit is uranus (im a geek(a smart slightly nerdish person))

  22. hey Scott,
    my favourite word is OBLONG but thats hardly a dirty word, however it could account for a dorky word!
    considering i have friends that use nothing but dirty words that book wouldn’t affect me or them in any way. it would be hell funny to read though! i work in a bookshop
    so I’m going to so look for that book the next time i work!
    keep it real man, your my idol and my favourite author (corny i know, deal with it)
    I’ll see you when u come down to Melbourne! cannot wait!
    cheerio. Gilly

  23. p.s when u come down to Melbourne for the reading conference will you also be bothered with signing books after? because my dream would be complete if you signed just one of my books by you! you can even sign other peoples books I DON’T MIND!
    i also have to thank you for your stories (careful cheesy stuff coming through) i think your books have been a fantastic inspiration for me and have really helped me open up my eyes to the world and see it through your’s. you have changed my perspective on so many things (man your good at corruption) and i thank you for reshaping my world! *sigh* *tear*
    but enough mushiness for one night. good luck with “extras” i know it will be totally “bubbly” 😉
    cheerio once again *salutes*

  24. Well, I just got my first cup of coffee and was busy scatching my scro…..Ah, never mind, when I ran across this latest attempt of the literary Nazi’s to police or make much a do about nothing. I love these folks! In thousands of years, they still have not learned that if you want to make something popular…BAN IT!!!
    This book, at best, probably would have sold @ a hundred thousand copies. Now it will be Two Million!

  25. scince this IS america and it is suposidly(wow cant spell) a FREE country, and we have FREEDOM of speach, the author of Lucky should be able to put whatever she wants in her book. i mean seriouly if you go and listen to the conversations in the hallways of my Catholic high school, it can be pretty distirbing. the people scream curses at eachother while passing the principal and in study hall these guys were having a conversation about how hot jessica alba was and…erm…other stuff involving her and them…that i would rather not put. i just finished reading my sisters keeper which was a very good book. it also said the f word… A LOT. my friend said that shes reading holly black’s valient(i want to read tithe but she wont let me borrow it till shes done reading it) which also frequently says the f word. its not like weve never heard these words before and its going to cause a small apocaypse in our own little worlds if a book says a word that probably half the kids that read will just skim over it because they have no idea what it means. if we are supposed to hve freedom of speach, how can books be banned? i mean really. how stupid do you have to be to ban a perfectly good book because it mentions one part of the anatomy in context! when i know for a fact that some of the books in my school library have numerous curses in them! ok im done. rant over

  26. I offically loved this blog all the sarcaism i LOVE IT! And i now feel like i should protest this talk of banning by going and checking out this book reading it then telling the librarian about this “dirty” word and letting her try to ban it so i can cause a stink about her being But i won’t but i actually might read this book. OH and she probably won’t ban even care seeing as how this is high school and i’m a junior and us talking about a scrotum and using that nice cover-up word is the least of her troubles.

    OH and my “dirty” word it sexual relations…through that into a conversation and all the adults will go straight in there minds only mind you to oh God one of my students is having sex possibly pregnant. lol Silly adults…how funny!

  27. Humph… I’m still trying to figure out which book to iron on! Page 217 in Midnighters: THe Secret Hour???

  28. This has just made my day. I somehow doubt that our school library will ban this book, seeing as I’ve recently checked out a book titled, “Unexpected Development.” If you can’t guess, it’s about a girl who has breasts. I must admit, it didn’t have scrotum in it, but it did have other words… numerous words meaning breasts. In my opinion, kids are going to have to learn these words sooner or later, whether it be from a book, from a teacher, or from a friend. Why try to prevent the inevitable?

    Sadly enough, I don’t have a special word that makes me giggle myself to tears and make my parents blush. The closest I have to one is poop, but it hardly makes anyone blush seeing as everyone does it.

    As for the secret lemon message, is there any other way to reveal it that doesn’t concern an iron, or anything that will possibly make my parents ground me?

  29. That was a beautifully worded post about a horrible topic–and no, I’m not talking about the scrotum. I mean the censorship, which is one of the worst things in the world. In my mind it’s right up there with multiple homicide and child molesters, because there are few things so awful as the stifling of ideas and murder of thoughts.

    Of course, hearing this news instantly makes me want to go out and buy a copy of the book myself, something I never would have been interested in if not for the talk of banning it from libraries.

    The more you “protect” children from the world, the less they’ll be able to function in it. Isn’t asking for the meaning of words that make your parents and teachers uncomfortable an integral part of childhood? Maybe parents should pay more attention to what their kids are actually doing/reading/watching personally and focus less on banning entire books because they find it easier to have society babysit their children than doing the job themselves.

    Ban a book, and you shoot yourself in the foot. When my elementary school talked about banning the “Goosebumps” books, I instantly started reading them, although I’d never been interested in them before (and still wasn’t), but now I wanted to stand up for the books and support them against the banning. Or was that burning? Is there really that much of a different, save for the amount of melodrama and smoke? The motives behind it are just as twistedly evil–brings to mind where the “good intentions” road is purported to lead.

    Oh wait, can we say that word? Maybe I should be on the safe side and not mention it, leaving that last sentence unclear and confusing to anyone who doesn’t know the reference. Because a confused kid is certainly better than an educated one; you never know what they might be learning! Better to just pull books from the school altogether–safer to just let them learn all that on their own from the babysitter–I mean, the TV. Eh, same thing.

    As far as words go, mine would be “sithspit” because I almost ended up in severe trouble for saying that in 7th grade science. Good thing my teacher already knew I was a geek…

  30. My word is actually “ta-tas”. I heard it first from my winterguard instructor, and I’ve used it in hushed tones ever since. I made the mistake of using it within earshot of my dad once, and he promptly left the room mumbling about dirty clothes.

  31. Hmmm. I guess my favorite dirty, not dirty word would be…groin. it seems to be the most politically correct term for the scrotal area, and for some reason it makes me giggle, therefore resulting in an idiot look from my friend.

    but what I am really happy about is that I finally know what to call myself! I am a vacuum reader through and through. I fully support the idea that you authors need to fill the shelves of my local bookstore with as many stories as you possibly can.(hinthint)

    I also think that the banning of any book is wrong. especailly if it’s for the meniton of a “questionable” word. It’s not as if we won’t hear it in our required health class anyway. sheesh, librarians need to chill.

  32. The worst reason to ban a book is this: “It will turn our children into communists!”
    Yes, poor J.D. Salinger and his hilarious book (at times) The Catcher in the Rye. The best part of this complaint? The parents read the book, too. Ha ha! I’m not joking. This happened. I laugh at all of the people who came up with this, too.

  33. That was a fun class, Capt. Cockatiel! I loved reading CATCHER IN THE RYE, LORD OF THE FLIES and 1984.

    But on the subject of banning books…anyone heard of the freedom of speech? Doesn’t is seem weird to say “Yeah, you can say whatever you want” and then say “Well, you know what, we’re banning it.” How dumb.

    So, to quote Caitlin; “Sheesh, librarians need to chill”

    Even if I am a librarian. I’m telling myself to chill. Huh. That’s weird.


  34. A quick word about our wonderful librarian friends:

    Lucky did win the Newbery Award, which means that a panel of librarians thought it was the best middle-grade book by an American last year. So methinks the vast majority are on our side with this.

    The Times failed to mention that, and I fear I have compounded their error. Bad author. Good librarians.

  35. I won’t comment on the whole scrotum induced banning, so my word is Wenis- a slang term used for the skin on the elbow. Another word- Fahrvergnügen- which, I think, is German for “the love of driving” and is only amusing because the first part sounds like fart-FartFacNoogen!

  36. Heh, i dont think books should be banned. Maybe limiting age groups for more… ‘exotic’ novels, but certainly not banning them and not for this. Scrotum? When people want to play dodgeball they tell the Teachers Aid to “get the ball sack.” *rolls his eyes* Some people

    My favorite is phallis, hehehe

  37. i think banning books is the most annoying thing that can be done to a book. can you imagine how an author would feel after such slander? jeez, its like one giant insult.

    and my favorite doky-dirty word is “nude”… only because of the look on this waiter’s face after i ordered a “nude” salad (as in a salad w/o dressing).

  38. Honestly! What has this world come to? Doesn’t everyone know how traumatized kids will be when they read the word ‘scrotum’? Eegads, I just typed it. My eyes are burning! Ahhhh!

    I mean, come on! I think the whole thing is absurd. It’s an anatomical term–a correct term! It’s in the dictionary for Pete’s sake. And it’s not used in a sexual way.

    Are they going to stop carrying dictionaries in the schools now, too? There are a LOT of anatomical terms in the dictionary.

    *scratches head* I just don’t get it.

    Great post, by the way, Scott! Nicely put.

  39. Am I the only one reading this and being cynical enough to believe that it WAS a publicity stunt, including the word scrotum on the first page?
    All publicity is good publicity in anyone’s book. Scrotum is such a stupid, unchildish word. Yes, I’m against not dumbing down children’s books, but when I see such obvious stunts like this one I just sigh in resignation.
    I have no wish to ban the book; hell, this kerfuffle reminds me of the time the US banned one episode of the Pingu cartoon because it showed the young male penguin peeing into a toilet.
    But they – the publisher and editor and author – orchestrating a row over the word ‘scrotum’, for godsake, is just a bunch of dog’s bollocks.

    Oh, rude word, hummm, spunk. If you need me to explain it, you were never a teenager in the 70’s.

  40. I think the word that makes me crack up is……
    ready for this..
    It is actually a place outside of Philedelphia

  41. gosh, talk about propaganda on the NY side! not telling the whole truth about the book, cheap! maybe it is a publicity stunt, you never know.

    oh, and if these kids are anywhere near age 10, then there is no hope anyway! when i was 10 i cursed like it was nothing(not that i do anymore), i knew all about sex already. really, the word ‘scrotum’ wouldve been nothing new to me. everyone think kids are way more sheltered than they are. in sex-ed in 5th grade the girls had to watch the boys video too(that was scarring!)

  42. “parents who don’t want their cotton-candy invented memories of what childhood is like disturbed.”

    ^that is an excellent line

    you know, between this and maureen dowd, i am beginning to question the nyt‘s taste. honestly. i wonder when they’re going to start banning biology books. what about the kids taking anatomy? if the people making all this noise about one little word would stop for five seconds to actually, ya know, think, we wouldn’t have this problem.

    She said “boompa” instead of butt and “wah-bimbas” instead of boobs.”
    i think that almost makes it worse than just saying “boobs” and “butt.” it certainly makes it funnier.

    the words “behonkus” and “bozo” used to crack me up no end when i was younger. i was also not allowed to say “dork” and got in trouble for having it in a story that i submitted to a little newsletter when i was about ten or eleven. now, the word “bugger” comes to mind. hehe!

  43. Trust me, Naomi and Amy, the authors and publishers of this book weren’t pulling a stunt. It’s not outrageous enough to be a stunt. How do I know that? Because nobody even noticed the word “scrotum” until Lucky won the Newberry Award. (And if someone knows they’re going to win the Newberry, they wouldn’t worry much about publicity stunts.)

    Seriously, check out Lucky‘s reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and School Library Journal on Amazon. It doesn’t occur to anyone at all to mention this one word, because the whole issue is not just stupid, it’s randomly stupid. (See the difference?)

    I know we’ve all been trained to suspect that every literary “outrage” is the result of a publicity stunt. That’s a trick that book-banners use to cover themselves: They’d like you to believe that they’re not banning art, they’re banning someone who’s abusing art for publicity’s sake. Clever, because suddeny the author is the evil one, not them.

    So no, Naomi, I don’t think you’re being cynical. I think you’re being bamboozled by an old, old trick.

    I’ve worked in publishing for almost 20 years, and have never seen anyone sitting around thinking this or that book is going to be an outrage. You know why? Because the books that wind up being deemed “outrageous” are random, OR they’re the result of great success, which is partly what’s going on here.

    Take Harry Potter. I mean, do you think HP gets all that flack for being “devilish” because it’s the only book out there with magical teens? Please. It’s just the only one that illiterates ever come across, because it’s so huge. And would anyone say that Rowling added magic to her world to make it “controversial”? Hah!

    That reaction wouldn’t have occured to Rowling, I’m sure. Just like Patron is no doubt perplexed by this.

    This is not to say that publicity stunts never happen, say, like that creepy OJ Simpson book. And we can no doubt come up with a few others. But to see that level of cynicism in the word “scrotum” is to let the book-banners win, because then you’ll believe anything they say.

    Rant, rant, rant.

  44. Word, Scott. What you said times a million.

    The idea that all us writers are sitting around coming up with words that might get us banned is ludicrous. Mostly because the majority of banned books get little or no attention.

    That’s right. According to the ALA the book challenges they deal with are a tiny percentage of those that happen all over the USA. What happens all too often is that a vocal parent complains about a book and it is removed without any discussion. No notoriety, no extra sales, no nothing.

    A couple of people I know have been caught at the centre of one of these controversies. It has involved an avalance of poisonous letters from people who’ve clearly not read their books. They’ve had to get silent phone numbers. It is hellish to go through. Nobody in their right mind would court that kind of attention.

  45. This is an embarrassing moment for many school librarians who would rather die than ban a book. Please do not lump most of us into the category of censors (as the NYTimes seems hell-bent on doing).

    One thing to be learned from this is that listservs (and blogs) are NOT private communications. At least one of the librarians quoted in the article was surprised to read “her words” in this influential newspaper.

    Others on the listserv were outraged by the invasion of our “privacy.”

    This realization of being spied upon by people who love feeding media frenzies is a far more important conversation than the discussion librarians had centered on the use of the proper word scrotum in a well-written, engaging children’s book.

  46. Worst reason to ban a book: “Defamation of the logging industry.” *jawdrop* That cute book by Dr. Seuss that actually discourages greed and such, The Lorax, was banned for that very reason. Dude. How pathetic is that?

    As for a favorite word… That would be “pucker.” Not excruciatingly silly, but it serves its giggling purposes.

  47. I’d like to point out that when I said that librarians need to chill, I didn’t mean ALL librarians, just the overzealous, slightly misguided ones. I personally love librarians. some of the coolest people I have known in my relatively short life have been librarians.

    Just wanted to clear things up, I didn’t want to be perceived as a librarian hater.

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