By MK Reed
Published by First Second, 2011
224 pages (paperback)
Neal Barton just wants to read in peace. Unluckily for him, some local Christian activists are trying to get his favorite fantasy series banned from the Americus public library on grounds of immoral content and heresy. Something has to be done, and it looks like quiet, shy Neal is going to have to do it. With youth services librarian Charlotte Murphy at his back, Neal finds himself leading the charge to defend the mega-bestselling fantasy series that makes his life worth living. (from barnesandnoble.com)
I think I put this on my order list a long time ago so I really had no clue what it was going to be about. But I picked it up because reading a graphic novel seemed like a fun thing to do at the end of a busy week.
This book had me hooked from the first few pages. As a librarian (and history teacher and lover of books and someone who appreciates diverse intellectual pursuits), this book, whose plot revolves around censorship, got me fuming. I mean, if the material is age appropriate, why are there a few adults/students who try to take away the books from everyone. Just because a few people don’t like it or the subject matter doesn’t mean that others can’t benefit from it. Especially when it comes to books, why should some people try take away the joy of reading from others just because they want attention and to show how “upstanding” they are.
Americus does give a few brief descriptions of the fictional fiction series that has the town almost ready to storm the public library with pitchforks and torches and the books seem a lot like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series because there is witchcraft. Yeah, did you know that Harry Potter has been challenged and banned numerous times? I even know of at least one school in Champaign-Urbana that does not allow Harry, Ron, and Hermione to be on the shelves! If it weren’t so sad it would be hilarious because there are WAY bigger issues in the world then Harry’s quidditch matches and his feud with Lord Voldemort. With all that being said, I am thankful to work in a city and school district that strongly supports intellectual freedom and encourages students to read… no matter what type of book it is.
Politics and censorship aside, Americus was a good story. It is about finding your purpose and voice. It is about not letting the ignorant voices of a few ruin the education and enjoyment of many. And it is about discovering your niche in the world, even though you didn’t expect that was where you would end up. I seriously hope that students, teachers, librarians, and parents read this. It brings up a lot of things about what divides us in America, but that we may not be all that different from each other if we actually listen to one another.
Want to know more about censorship or books that have been banned? Check out these links…
ALA Frequently Challenged Books:
Have you read a challenged or banned book lately?
Banned Books Week: Celebrate Banned Book Week by reading something that has been banned recently