Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Award Winner, Ted Dawe's Book, Banned in New Zealand

In keeping with my previous post, Children's Books Banned from Bookshelves as Late as 1990,  I thought this news from the world of children's literature was decidedly worth a follow-up:

Ted Dawe's young adult novel Into the River won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award and was also the winner of the Young Adult Fiction category.  And yet, it is banned by many bookstores and schools. 

Into the River by Ted Dawe (Source: Breakfast)
But a judge is defending an award-winning children's book, which has been taken off the shelves in some bookstores, saying the book's descriptions of sex acts, drug-taking and coarse language help to tell the real story.

Some bookstores are refusing to sell the book and organizers of the awards have sent out a "explicit content" warning stickers to all booksellers.
The novel has stirred up controversy but chief judge of the Children's Book Awards Bernard Beckett has brushed it off, adding:

 It was a "magnificent" and "important" book...and feels more real than any teen novel I have read in New Zealand."

"I want people to read this book. It's about a young Maori boy, grew up on the East Coast, who moves up to Auckland on a scholarship.  He's a boy with potential, he's smart, he's got the world ahead of him and then that gap between two worlds is too big he ends up in a boarding school where he can't find a place to stand.  It's exactly that story about what happens to these kids who fall through the gaps and what the implications are for them."

Ted Dawe
But its "unnecessarily graphic" content, coarse language including the c-word, drug and sex references has provoked response.  Family First's Bob McCoskrie said Mr Dawe and judges were out to "pollute the moral innocence of kids" and even adults would find it offensive.

Beckett contends the story could not have been told without the coarse language, drug and sex references.:

"In the same way that Macbeth can't be told without a murder, you can tell a different story, but the story you can't tell is the cost of this lifestyle and what happens to these kids."

You decide.  Have a look at Into the River, and assess it for yourself.  The only caveat, as far as your humble blogger is concerned, is that New Zealand is a democracy of the first water and, as such, book banning should be scrutinized at the very least.

No comments:

Post a Comment