By Jason Collum
| AFA Journal Staff Writer
Olivia Hartsell loves having her parents read to her. The Wilmington,
North Carolina, first-grader has begun taking advantage of the school
library, bringing home books she chooses.
One book Olivia chose in March, though, set off a firestorm of debate
when her parents, Michael and Tonya Hartsell, demanded the book
be taken off the shelves at Freeman Elementary School library. The
book: King & King, a tale of how a prince searches through
a troupe of eligible potential princesses before he finds his true
love another prince, whom he ultimately marries.
The book, by Dutch writers Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland, was
translated and published in America in 2002 by Tricycle Press, the
childrens division of Ten Speed Press of Berkely, California.
And, according to the publisher, the book is for children six and
I was flabbergasted, Hartsell said in a report by The
Associated Press. My child is not old enough to understand
something like that, especially when it is not in our beliefs.
Flabbergasted or not, King & King is only one of many examples
of books written for children that aim to indoctrinate them with
views and social agendas with which Christian parents might disagree.
Homosexuality, bestiality, horror and suicide are topics cropping
up in works targeted at children. Its enough that one parent,
who works for a major national bookstore chain, has launched a Web
site to educate parents about certain books that, while they may
seem innocent and are intended for children, really deserve a stern
review from parents first.
The Web site, www.parentsaware.net, is in its beginning stages.
It has several sections, including pages of young and teen reader
books that are recommended and those to be avoided.
It was the book Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan that
pushed me over the edge and into the Web site world, the site
creator writes on the introduction page of parentsaware.net. Here
was a book aimed at kids 12 years old and up that was openly gay.
. . . When I started to look at teen books a little closer, I found
that Boy Meets Boy was exactly that, the first openly
gay teen book.
The name of the site creator (from here on referred to as SC
for site creator) is not being published here to protect his or
her identity. SC launched the Web site late last year after reading
one particularly bad childrens book.
I take home the childrens books to read so I can recommend
them to people [who come in and ask about them], SC said.
The first book I read was Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged,
which had bestiality in it. When I read that I just got so completely
disgusted I decided I couldnt stay quiet; I had to do something
Jake Riley, written by Rebecca Fjelland Davis for readers
12 and older, tells of a boy who, at different points in the story,
tries to grope and seduce Lainey, the main female character; uses
his pocket knife to saw off the leg of an injured squirrel; and
is later caught by Lainey in the calf pen in the barn. His pants
are down and he is groaning with pleasure, according
Its not the worst book SC has seen on the job and reviewed.
33 Snowfish, by Adam Rupp, is about three teenagers, according
to SC. Of the teens, Boobie has killed his parents and kidnapped
his infant sibling to sell on the street. Custis, another teen,
is being kept by a pornographer making pedophilic movies.
And Curl is a teenage prostitute.
All the reviews I could find of this book recommended it for
kids over 15, SC writes on the Web site. I cant
imagine they would do that without a really, really good reason.
According to SC, who told AFA Journal that more than 10 pages
of notes were made during the review of 33 Snowfish, the
s-word is used approximately 163 times in the 179 page
book. Also, the n-word is used approximately 55 times.
Another book, Swear to Howdy, is troubling in its own right.
The book, written for children 8-12, goes into great detail on how
to load and shoot a rifle, and the characters in the book kill the
family cat. Also, at one point, one of the books characters,
Rusty, finds Joey sitting on his bed with the muzzle of his rifle
in his mouth, his finger on the trigger, saying, There aint
no other way out.
a new trend
Using childrens books to push decidedly adult themes or agendas
isnt a new phenomenon. Heather Has Two Mommies caused
a stir a few years ago as it presented homosexuality to children
as normal and natural.
Tricycle Press, a decidedly liberal publisher, also translated and
published the follow-up to King & King. King & King &
Family has the two married kings adopting a child.
Despite the obvious overtones of these stories, King series co-author
Stern Nijland said she never intended the books to be endorsements
Its a happy story its just two princes,
thats it, Nijland told WECT Television in Wilmington.
We thought it was funny too bizarre for words actually.
Here this kind of thing is normal. It is sad this discussion is
apparently still necessary.
AFA President Tim Wildmon disagrees with Nijlands stance.
How can a happy book about a man who marries another
man, and then adopts a child, not be an endorsement of homosexuality?
Wildmon said. I realize the authors live in the Netherlands
and homosexuality rather, sin is accepted in that
culture, but to say such a book isnt an endorsement of that
lifestyle is ludicrous.
It is not the goal of SC or AFA, for that matter to
get such books banned. Freedom of speech in the United States allows
for such fare, no matter how tasteless or disgusting, to exist.
It is, however, SCs goal for parents to be more educated about
what books are out there for children, and to know that not all
books in the childrens section of the library or bookstore
should be considered safe.
My opinion is bridled at work, SC said, but I
still wanted to get the message out. I wanted parents to know about
the silent assault against their children.
Parents, like the Hartsells, who have come across childrens
books with themes or material they feel are inappropriate for children,
are welcomed to alert ParentsAware.net.
To contact the site, go to the Web site and click on the link contact
the Web site book reviewer.