A weblog by Will Fitzgerald

Is there really a controversy regarding "The Higher Power of Lucky"?

The blogosphere is abuzz with discussions about the controversy about censorship of the Newbery Medal winning children’s book “The Higher Power of Lucky,” because it contains the word ‘scrotum’ on the first page, especially after an article about the controversy appeared on the first page of The New York Times (the article in question, soon to be behind the Times’s paywall).

The New York Times says:

On electronic mailing lists like Librarian.net, dozens of literary blogs and pages on the social-networking site LiveJournal, teachers, authors and school librarians took sides over the book. Librarians from all over the country, including Missoula, Mont.; upstate New York; Central Pennsylvania; and Portland, Ore., weighed in, questioning the role of the librarian when selecting — or censoring, some argued — literature for children.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, librarians “held about 159,000 jobs in 2004.” Compare this to the ‘dozens’ of blogs mentioning it, including a post on librarian.net–which, is definitely not an electronic mailing list, the Times’s unfact-checked assertion to the contrary. I suppose by now this story has been parishiltoned–it’s now famous for being famous. But I wish that the media (both mainstream and alternative) would do the simplest of facts before calling something “controversial” there should be considerably more than a few dozen people are upset on either side of an issue. Sure, the Lucky story was a story–but it was a local story, not worth national exposure. This is no evidence of a vast conspiracy or vast stupidity or vast anything.

And the ‘blogosphere is abuzz’ is a hackneyed phrase, but this story is a hackneyed story. Please put it to rest.


One response to “Is there really a controversy regarding "The Higher Power of Lucky"?

  1. Mark Nielsen March 23, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Another oft-censored or banned Newberry book, for reasons I don’t quite get, is _A Bridge To Terabithia_. When I visited Hannibal, Missouri, (boyhood home of Mark Twain) on a list that put _Huck Finn_ high on those lists, Terabithia was something like #6, or maybe #10 in frequency of being banned. As Dylan once sang: “We live in a political world”…

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