Hideous Book Remains in Fond du Lac School Library

February 24, 2010

A materials review committee formed by the Fond du Lac (Wis.) School District has denied a request by a Theisen Middle School parent to remove Sonya Sones's One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies from school-library shelves. However, complainant Ann Wentworth remains immersed in the district's reconsideration process; shortly before the February 18 hearing, she filed objections to the presence of six other young-adult novels in the collection, explaining in the February 19 Oshkosh Northwestern that "ultimately I'd like to see a policy change in how literature is selected."

Wentworth said she objected to Hideous after her 6th-grade daughter borrowed it because the novel was sexually explicit and age-inappropriate. "Kids are bombarded from every angle. In the home, parents control the media. Parameters need to be put in place for literature at school," she asserted.

But Fond du Lac Public Library Director Ken Hall, who was a member of the reconsideration committee, characterized the novel as "a sweet book, something I felt a reluctant reader would read."

Superintendent Jim Sebert read aloud a letter from Sones in which she supported Wentworth's right to monitor her child's reading but, "As Clare Booth Luce so eloquently put it, 'Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but unlike charity, it should end there.'"

At one point, the discussion shifted to a district-library software program that enables parents to bar their children from borrowing particular titles. "It doesn't do any good if parents aren't aware of it," area resident Lori Gneiser said of the Alexandria program, which Sebert described in the February 18 Fond du Lac Reporter as "allowing the district to meet individual needs while also providing a robust collection in line with First Amendment provisions and the spirit of intellectual freedom."

The other six books challenged by Wentworth are: Ann Brashares's four-volume Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern, and another Sonia Sones title, What My Mother Doesn't Know.