Last year the book was taught without issue. Parents were first told of the book at back-to-school night and made aware of an opt-out permission slip that would be distributed closer to the scheduled reading. E-mails were sent by the teacher to parents prior to beginning that segment as well, said Barone. Problems were brought up when a student brought a particularly graphic paragraph to a parent’s attention.
The paragraph depicts two boys using prostitution to earn money so they can eat. Barone added the book itself contains violence, but this is the only passage with sexual violence. Students are allowed to skip the graphic sections when and if they become uncomfortable, said Barone.
Kaffir Boy was challenged last year in a high school, so I was less than surprised to see it challenged in a middle school. I do know that there is a revised edition of the book that, according to the Mathabane website, makes it "appropriate for middle school audiences" but the article doesn't mention which edition was used.
Regardless, it sounds like the superintendent pulled the book from the class and the library without going through any sort of challenge process, which is, as they say, Not Cool. 'Cause, you know, what will be next?
The middle school message board at the Burlingame Voice makes for fascinating reading. The Kaffir Boy related posts start here.
Objections raised at a board meeting last fall included concerns about profanity, sexual content and references to homosexuality, and worries that the book promotes bullying, according to minutes from board meetings.
Okay, I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks that The Chocolate War promotes bullying CLEARLY needs to re-read the book. Or read it for the first time. Good god.
The county library has reported that they've ordered extra copies to meet the new demand. Ha.