Public libraries and series books
- Yes, although the books have sometimes been "banned" by some
Evangelicals who also object to books like CSL's _The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe_ or the "Harry Potter" books, again because there is a
witch in these books, which might tempt children to become Satanists
and pursue the fate of the Wicked Witch of the West, I guess. But the
books weren't "Banned" in the same sense. Many public library
children's departments didn't acquire them and many other series books.
When I worked at the St. Paul Public Library Children's Room (in MN),
we didn't have any of the Stratemeyer Syndicate series (The Bobbsey
Twins, The Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, Nancy Drew, etc., which were all
written by large committees or groups of paid workers who cranked out
these novels according to a precis from their editors, under the
pseudonyms like "Laura Lee Hope" and "Franklin W. Dixon" and so on),
and while we had the first 14 Oz books, the ones written by Baum, we
didn't have the later books by other authors. We did have various
series books by Enid Blyton, a British phenomenon who wrote many
children's mystery stories in different series such as the "Adventure"
books and the "Famous Five" books. We certainly stocked "quality"
series, like the Narnia books or the Little House on the Prairie series
or the Betsy-Tacy books, etc.
Today the library carries the Nancy Drew mysteries (and others) and
even certain format comic books. Baum also wrote several other
non-fantasy series under various pseudonyms, possibly similar to the
Stratemeyer books, my impression is that the Oz books were mostly
better written, though I've not read any of these series books. I'm
not speaking here of his non-Oz fantasies like _Queen Zixi of Ix_ and
_The Magical Monarch of Mo_, which were published under his own name.
This fact was certainly known and might have been held against him by
the librarians crusading for better quality literature.
On Dec 6, 2006, at 1:35 PM, email@example.com wrote:
> Re: ruby slippers
> Posted by: "Croft, Janet B." jbcroft@... jbcroft73019
> Wed Dec 6, 2006 11:35 am (PST)
> Sounds like one of those incidents in the past where librarians where
> the "banners" rather than the defenders - but more because the books
> were thought to be badly written than for any particular issue with
> content. I can well remember growing up when libraries just didn't
> the Nancy Drew books because they were "junk" - later the thinking
> became "anything that gets them reading is good"
> >From http://www.geocities.com/hollywood/hills/6396/ozcritic.htm
> The Wizard of Oz as a Banned/Censored Book:
> * "At a state library conference in 1957 the director of the
> Detroit Public Library system fueled a controversy heard across the
> nation. He voiced the sentiment that L.Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz
> had no value. ... Furthermore, numerous librarians rallied in support
> the Detroit director's proclamation, calling the Oz books "poorly
> written", "unimaginative", "negativisitic", and "unwholesome"." This
> information is stated on the back cover of Martin Gardner and Russel
> Nye's book, The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was. This book was originally
> published in 1957 as a counter attack to this controversy and to pay
> tribute to L.Frank Baum's unique approach to writing children's
> * SOURCE: Gardner, Martin & Nye, Russel B. (editors), The Wizard
> of Oz and Who He Was, East Lansing : Michigan State University Press,
> >From http://www.sexualfables.com/WonderfulWizardofOzbanned.php
> The Wonderful Wizard of Oz banned from the nation's libraries?
> L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz used to be one of the Great
> American Novels, right up there with Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick.
> Not among the literati, of course, but among nearly everybody else.
> Indeed it was clear-eyed librarians in the Thirties, Fifties and
> who recognized the novel for what it was, a dangerous and subversive
> satire on American imperialism - and they had the Oz books banned from
> the libraries of America in the 1930s, and then again from 1957 until
> the mid-1960s. They were, in the immortal words of one expert, "poorly
> written, untrue to life, sensational, foolishly sentimental and
> consequently unwholesome..." It seems equally likely that the
> decapitation of wildcats and the portrayal of witches made the
> librarians uncomfortable, just as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
> makes some people uncomfortable today. The librarians have come around
> in their thinking, even if the literati haven't. One notable exception
> was Ray Bradbury who always loved the Oz books and celebrated them on
> several occasions. His short story "The Exiles" and his subsequent
> novel about book-burning, Fahrenheit 451, were partially inspired by
> fate of Baum's Oz books.
> Janet Brennan Croft
David Lenander, Library Manager
University of Minnesota Bio-Medical Library Access Services
Diehl Hall / 505 Essex SE, / Mpls., MN 55455
Phone: work: (612) 626-3375 fax: (612) 626-2454 home: (651) 292-8887;
e-mail: d-lena@... web-page:
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