May 15th, 2007

Fringe, contemplative, swing

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson: Too Cool for School?

The Bermudez Triangle: Too Cool for School?
A report by Little Willow
Sponsored in part by The Edge of the Forest, the number 3, Kelly H., Angela N., and readers/viewers like you.

On March 4th, 2007, in Oklahoma, a book challenge was submitted to the school board of Bartlesville Public Schools in Oklahoma. Someone felt that a book had "no moral fiber" and asked for it to be removed "at once."

The book in question: The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, a bestselling young adult novel about three best friends whose once-balanced triumvirate tips and shifts when two of the teens start secretly dating each other.

Collapse )

IN SUMMARY

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson is being challenged/banned at a high school in Oklahoma because some people are claiming that the book is full of naughtiness and naked encounters. These claims are unfounded. There's only kissing, and even that is minimal. Furthermore, banning this particular book, let alone any book, makes little to no sense to me, and I do not believe they should prohibit people from reading this book. My review of the book, written years ago, closes with this: "Once you're in THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE, you won't want to leave."

Do yourself a favor, gentle readers. Read the book. Think for yourself. Do not let the negative opinions of others cloud your judgment or sway your vote.

For the latest news, please visit Maureen's blog within her website and look for entries tagged Bartlesville.

Maureen's posts make people not only laugh, but take action. Her coverage of The Battle of Bartlesville has inspired people to write posts of their own about the matter, to read the book, to give the book to friends, to speak up, to speak out, to think, to consider, to question - to do something.

I can only hope this post of mine encourages people to do the same.


FOOTNOTES AND CROOKED TOES

Collapse ) Clio, you're right up there too, but your book, Girl at Sea, doesn't come out until June 2007. I promise to give you plenty of airtime at that time because you are tres cool.

Collapse ) I met John once a year ago. I know he knows of me online, and that he knows me as Little Willow, but I do not know if he remembers having met me. There were lots of fangirls present at the time.

Collapse ) Referring to the form filed against this book, which is called A Citizen's Request for Removal of Instructional Materials.

Collapse ) You don't want to make me scream. I'm loud. Just ask those who have brought up The Battle of Bartlesville with me in the past month.


SIGN THE PETITION

If you are from outside of Bartlesville and wish to show your support for The Bermudez Triangle and Maureen Johnson, please sign this petition!

If you are actually from Bartlesville or neighboring communities, please sign the local petition!

UPDATE

I interviewed Maureen Johnson in June 2007. The night before we spoke, she'd received some interesting news. Here's the scoop, directly from Maureen:
I got a note from the local librarian -- the woman who brought all of this to light and who resigned her position over this mess. We've been waiting for weeks and weeks to hear what the committee recommended about the book. They finally decided -- after being pummeled with letters from around the world, and after they were caught violating public policy by exceeding their authority and pulling the book without telling the public -- that Bermudez belongs on the 'reserve shelf.' You'll need parental permission to check it out for 'classroom purposes.' Plus, they want to have some kind of day each year where the parents come in and monitor the library. (This part of their letter was written in a strange way and hard to understand.) This has a bad sound to me. They seem to be suggesting -- and this is just what I'm taking from this -- that parents should come in once a year and see what they approve of. It sounds like they want to put more on the naughty shelf.

I didn't think they could make it worse, but they did. So, the book isn't banned -- you just need a note to look at it. Until then, you can't even get at it.

My response:

I always want to accentuate the positive in life because silver linings are SHINY. I try not to be wholly negative. So - deep breath - this is not a solution, not an equal/even compromise, but at least the book has not been completely banned or removed.

However, by not allowing patrons to freely check out and read the book, the powers that be are causing another series of problems and lies. In sixth grade, my teacher* wouldn't allow students to read Stephen King books without expressed written permission from their parents, so kids simply forged notes. My teacher was so busy creating and enacting that 'permission necessary' rule for the King books that she forgot about the existence of other books and authors, and my classmates snickered as they freely passed around Christopher Pike books with the naughtier passages marked.

* It should be noted that this was the same teacher who refused to believe I read dozens of books every month and graded my book reports very harshly. Let's not talk about her anymore.