The Day They Came to Arrest the Book

Book Review: The Sledding Hill

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The Sledding Hill

by Chris Crutcher

Young Adult, 230 pages

I found The Sledding Hill after searching for books that discuss censorship. I’m interested both in challenged or banned books as well as those that mention censorship. The book is about Eddie Proffit who lost his dad and best friend, Billy Bartholomew, within months. However, most of the story is told through the eyes of Billy who watches his friend during his difficult times. It reminded me a little of Lovely Bones.  Eddie is so shaken up by these deaths that he becomes mute and talks to no one. An English teacher introduces the book Warren Peece (fake book) and there is controversy about the issues in the book. Some controversy topics in Warren Peece are a gay character, swearing, an abortion, and blasphemy. There are no actual quotes from Warren Peece. I think it would be interesting if the author created a book within a book. However, there’s a very interesting twist that happens with the author that I don’t want to spoil. Eddie and other students struggle to get their book back against the school board, church, and a youth religious group. I think this is a wonderful book for many teen issues and a great stepping stone to discuss censorship. The Sledding Hill itself may be considered threatening, which makes it a great reason to read it.

     “Folks, I’ve seen this before. They’ll tell you it’s about family values and Christian values and morality and our need to get control over our educational system. But it’s you. That’s it. Just you. If you’re going to stop this, you’re going to have to stop it yourselves. Decide whether you think your mind is strong enough to hear tough stories, told in their native tongue – and let the censors know.

– Chris Crutcher (The Sledding Hill, page 100-101)

A similar book is a review I wrote for The Day They Came to Arrest the Book. I wanted to re-post it, but decided not. Teens are fighting to get The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn back after it was banned in the classroom and library. It goes through the court and school board events. I decided to post a quotation from the book:

“No group should have veto power over what books we can read,” Barney volunteered.

“Exactly.” The librarian nodded her head. “Think, Kate. If Huckleberry Finn is going to be thrown out of school because it offends some black parents, what’s to stop other groups of parents from getting up their lists of books they want out of here? Catholics, Jews, feminists, anti-feminists, conservatives, liberals, Greeks, Turks, Armenians. Where does it end, Kate?”

– Nat Hentoff (The Day They Came to Arrest the Book)

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The Day They Came to Arrest the Book

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The Day They Came to Arrest the Book by Nat Hentoff

Young Adult, 176 pages

Fiction

I’m completely against any form of censorship and this book by Nat Hentoff helps individuals, especially teens understand the importance of what exactly censorship is and its consequences. The subject of the book is simple: the school board wants to ban The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn from the curriculum and school library after a parent complains, however not everyone agrees. The Day They Came to Arrest the Book reflects different opinions with teachers, parents, school board, community, and students. This book could be used in the classroom simultaneously while reading The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn to form their own viewpoint about why the book is so often banned and whether they agree. The writing itself is not spectacular, but it’s the message that sparks a classroom discussion about censorship. The topic may be complex and sensitive at times, so I suggest this book to middle school age and older.

opening page:

“No group should have veto power over what books we can read,” Barney volunteered.

“Exactly.” The librarian nodded her head. “Think, Kate. If Huckleberry Finn is going to be thrown out of school because it offends some black parents, what’s to stop other groups of parents from getting up their lists of books they want out of here? Catholics, Jews, feminists, anti-feminists, conservatives, liberals, Greeks, Turks, Armenians. Where does it end, Kate””

Banned book week occurs  September 24−October 1, 2011, so I’ll highlight different banned books. You’d be surprised which books have been banned or challenged in the past. How many of these classics have you read that were banned or challenged?

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedclassics/index.cfm

http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/radcliffes-rival-100-best-novels-list/

You can also examine my banned/challenged bookshelf on Goodreads which is on my blogroll.