Magazine article American Libraries

Whale Talk Beached for Bad Words

Magazine article American Libraries

Whale Talk Beached for Bad Words

Article excerpt

The Limestone County (Ala.) School District rejected the recommendation of the district superintendent March 7 and ordered the removal of the young adult novel Whale Talk from all five high-school libraries in the school system, citing the book's use of profanity. "We can't allow students to go down our halls and say those words, and we shouldn't let them read it," said board member James Shannon. "That book's got a lot of bad, bad words."

Superintendent Barry Carroll had backed the recommendation of a materials review committee, whose written report states that the book's message "is more important than the language used," according to the March 8 Decatur Daily. The novel, which tells the story of a group of social-outcast high-schoolers who form a swim team, uses explicit dialogue to depict the impact of child abuse and prejudice in what author and family therapist Chris Crutcher calls the "native tongue" that victims use in therapy.

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In an open letter to the adult populace of Limestone County--in particular the school board--Crutcher contended, "By showing our fear of issues and language that are 'everyday' to our children, we take ourselves off that short list of people to turn to in a real crisis. …

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