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Alabama school bans children's book, Whale Talk

By The Associated Press
03.11.05

ATHENS, Ala. — The Limestone County school board voted 4-3 to ban the book Whale Talk last week from the Ardmore High School library after a parent complained that it contained offensive language.

Superintendent Barry Carroll had recommended the book be left on the library shelves, citing a countywide panel's finding that its message was more important than the language used.

The book by Christopher Crutcher is about a 17-year-old boy confronting his multicultural heritage while creating a swim team at a high school that has no pool.

Board members Earl Glaze and James Shannon said they opposed the superintendent's recommendation because the book included several curse words.

"We can't allow students go down our halls and say those words, and we shouldn't let them read it," Shannon said. "That book's got a lot of bad, bad words in it."

Board members Bryant Moss and Darin Russell joined in voting to remove the book from the library.

Board President Roger Whitt and members John Wayne King and Charles Shoulders Jr. voted for it. A countywide committee of teachers, parents and administrators reviewed Whale Talk after a parent requested removal of the book in February.

According to a memo, the committee recommended keeping the book in the library for several reasons, among them that it highlights the importance of forgiveness over revenge. It also provides a realistic view of life and the "consequences of prejudice, outspoken and malicious people," the memo said.

Carroll and King said they wanted the book to stay because they trusted the committee's review.

"I'm not saying I approve of everything in the book," King said. "But there are a lot of things in life that you can't hide from kids. The language is not the whole idea of what the books says. Censoring a book is pretty extreme, and it needs a lot of thought put into it."

Shoulders said he opposed the book after reading excerpts, but changed his mind after a friend informed him about its message. He suggested putting an age limit on the book.

Carroll expressed concern that banning one book could lead to banning others.


Related

Pennsylvania school board strikes novel from curriculum

Muhlenberg officials cite Buffalo Tree's explicit sexual references, vulgar language, also remove book from school library, classroom shelves. 04.18.05

Pastor's complaint prompts district to pull book from classroom
Iowa superintendent says committee will review Whale Talk, decide if it should be permanently removed from high school classrooms. 02.26.07

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