Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Banned Book #1

Yesterday I finished Book #1 on my Banned Books Challenge list, that book being James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Though I read this book several times as a child, the last time was well over 12 years ago and this reread was just as wonderful as the first time I read it.

Readers can still get lost in the story of James, a young boy sent to live with his two horrible Aunts after his parents are tragically killed. He is beaten, starved, and incredibly unhappy until something magical happens to an ordinary tree in his yard. After a mysterious concoction is given to him (and subsequently spilled on the ground), an enormous peach grows high at the top of this tree, eventually growing large enough that it can house James and his miraculous new friends, the Centipede, Miss Spider, Ladybug, Grasshopper, Gloworm (a lightening bug here in the states), and a silkworm. Working together, this interesting and complex group work together to bring the peach all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, ending up in good ole' New York City.

This story is delightful and the illustrations just as good. After completely the story however, I could not figure out just why this book would be considered one to be challenged or banned. When the trusty Internet gave its answer, I (as most of you will be as you read your Challenge selections) was chuckling to myself over how ridiculous the reasons were. Reason #1: the use of the word "ass." Now, mind you, I wouldn't exactly want my young child reading that and repeating it, but that's where good parenting skills come in. Reason #2: the phrase "I would rather be fried and eaten by a Mexican" is used by the Centipede in the last chapter. Again, good parenting skills would come in here, if the phrase doesn't go completely over the child's head in the first place. Reason #3: Promotion of COMMUNISM!!!!! Where???? I certainly did not see any promotion of communism (or any other -ism for that matter). If you have read this book, please enlighten me as to where this takes place, because it must have been entirely too complex for my adult brain (as it would a child's). I may try and watch the movie version of James this weekend...maybe it will show up there.

I am happy to have finished one of my Challenge books, though it was a JF selection and not one that made me think too hard. I'll move on too something a little more difficult for the next selection. Mr. James and his insect friends get 7 out of 10 Peaches. :-)


Katya said...

I haven't read James and the Giant Peach, but I have seen the movie. I didn't see the promotion of communism -- let us if you do and where.

I think you're right about the good parenting skills. For most of the books that people want banned from libraries, they'd just be better off exercising their parenting skills instead of spending all that time trying to get a book banned. (Sorry, this is a soapbox issue for me.)

Deena said...

We as parents need to take responsibility for the behavior of our children, and not panic at the thought of an idea we don't subscribe to being presented to them. They will never truly know how to defend what they believe if it is never challenged, and the challenge needs to come while they are still under our care, so that we can still guide them.

Having said that, I'm going to encourage my son to read James and the Giant Peach...he's seen the movie...although he doesn't care for Roald Dahl books.

Katya said...

YES! Deena, that's it exactly. How can you know what you believe if you never hear anything that challenges that belief?

Debi said...

Sounds like a wonderful read! I'm going to put it on my "someday" list. And will encourage my daughter to do the same...she read other Roald Dahl books, but not this one.

web said...

RYC - congratulations and good luck with the book collecting. :-)

ajsnow said...

Eh Hemm... let me just take credit where credit is due...I did by the way find those reasons for it being banned. That's mainly...yes, because you usually have the book and I have the laptop, and yes you would have found out anyway...but still can i get some credit? hehe