Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kids’ Books with NUDITY???

TODAY WE read about the passing of famed children’s author Maurice Sendak .  Sendak is most famous, perhaps, for his book Where the Wild Things Are .  That book was read to countless numbers of us in elementary school and was made into a feature film many years later.  At the time the book was controversial because the young protagonist (in wild beast outfit) mixed it up with all manner of hairy monsters.

What fewer people may know is that Sendak also created a book in which a young boy spends most of the story completely naked.  In the Night Kitchen takes place as the youngster dreams.  His dream takes him out of bed---and out of his pajamas---then into the kitchen where big cereal bowls and giant spoons decorate the enchanted setting. 

Unlike Wild Things, Night Kitchen never seemed to overcome the controversy of featuring illustrations of a naked little boy.  We certainly don’t recall ever being read the book during elementary school.  Dr. Seuss experienced the same phenomenon: Green Eggs & Ham and The Cat in the Hat always got top billing, but Seuss’s story of The Seven Lady Godivas?  Not so much.  Similarly, Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is a treasured volume of children’s poetry. But Silverstein's poem about the kids who wish they could melt right out of their clothes on a hot day rarely seems to get a public reading.

We can see why.  A Pennsylvania school district recently banned another children’s book from the library entitled The Dirty Cowboy.  Just one pair of parents had complained that the book groomed young children to accept “pornography” because it featured illustrations of a cowboy whose dog won’t return his clothes after he takes a bath.  Strategically illustrated objects obscure any genitals, but what did that matter?  The school board voted unanimously to pull Cowboy from the shelves.

Future authors and illustrators are no doubt taking notes.