Yesterday, the Alamogordo High School removed Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere from shelves after parent Nancy Wilmott complained over content she deemed innapropriate for her 15-year-old daughter. The book has been on district required reading lists since 2004, but it has not been challenged before Wilmott took exception to language and what she called “sexual innuendo” in the book, claiming that “This is rated R material, and she cannot get into a rated R movie.”
The story was discovered after typically skewed coverage of the ban was posted online by CBS affiliate KRQE News 13 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (KRQE won’t be winning any awards for their biased coverage, which can be viewed here.) Upon hearing of the ban, Neil Gaiman took to Twitter, asking, “Is anyone fighting back?” If the comments section on the KRQE video is any indication, the school district can expect immediate opposition to the ban.
NPR reached out to Gaiman, who responded via email:
“I’m faintly baffled by this. NEVERWHERE’s a book that’s been taught in schools for years: it’s an adult novel that kids love (and won the YALSA award as an adult book that Young Adults enjoy). It’s an adventure, with themes of social responsibility. I’ve not seen it described as ‘R Rated’ before, and mostly worry that anyone who buys it thinking they are in for lashings of Sex and Violence will be extremely disappointed.”
NPR also received a response from the school:
The school district’s superintendent, Dr. George Straface, told NPR that the district is “temporarily taking it out of use until we can review it in front of a panel of parents and teachers.”
CBLDF will be following this story closely, and you can expect updates as more information becomes available.