Good news out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico: Despite a school district official’s initial assessment last month that Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar was “clearly inappropriate” for a high school library collection, it has been confirmed that the district will follow its challenge policy with a committee review of the book beginning this week.
News coverage of a parent’s challenge to Palomar has been difficult to come by, with the only local coverage being a biased report on news station KOAT which implied that the book had already been banned from the school library. CBLDF joined the Kids’ Right to Read Project in sending a letter to Rio Rancho Public Schools last week, urging them to follow their own policy which says review of challenged books will be carried out “objectively, unemotionally, and as a routine matter.” Via an article by Multiversity Comics’ Greg Matiasevich, a district spokesperson confirmed “a committee review of the book is being held next week per district policy.”
Palomar was challenged by Catreena Lopez, the mother of a 14-year-old high school student who had checked the book out of the school library because it looked similar to manga, which he enjoys. In Lopez’s words, however, when she paged through the book she found “child pornography pictures and child abuse pictures and I was like, ‘No. That’s not going to happen in my house.’” She flagged every page she found objectionable and brought it to the attention of KOAT, which eagerly reported the story as “Student Finds Pornographic Book at Rio Rancho High,” but refrained from actually showing any of the book’s contents because they were “sexual, graphic, and not suitable for children.”
Matiasevich also interviewed CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein as well as Fantagraphics Books Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds for his article. Check it out here!
Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.