This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki, which last year made history as the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor and subsequently was the graphic novel that CBLDF had to defend most frequently in 2015, has been removed from three elementary school libraries in Seminole County, Florida, after a parent complaint about profanity sexual references. To compound matters, local ABC affiliate WFTV covered the story in a biased and error-riddled report.
WFTV opted for shock value and uncritically quoted an Amazon reader review that called it “practically porn for kids.” The report also failed to credit Jillian Tamaki as one of the book’s co-creators, and erroneously stated that it was “a 2015 Newbery honoree.” In fact, This One Summer received both a Caldecott Honor for illustration and a Printz Honor for outstanding teen books.
In addition to removing This One Summer from the elementary libraries, Seminole County School District officials also said somewhat ominously that “a bigger review of how all books are screened” will take place. This evokes disastrous efforts in other school districts, such as a proposed purge of “unacceptable” books in Lumberton Township, New Jersey, or red-flagging of certain books in Highland Park, Texas, and Reading, Pennsylvania.
First Second, the publisher of This One Summer, includes the book amongst its Young Adult offerings and the book is listed as appropriate for ages 12 and up. Books for readers up to age 14 are eligible for the Caldecott Honors and Medal, but some libraries and schools have been caught off-guard by This One Summer due to the common misconception that Caldecott Honorees are appropriate for younger readers. Because of the confusion, CBLDF had to defend This One Summer against challenges throughout 2015, and we developed and provided librarians and educators with tools to stop challenges before they happened.
We’re still looking into the events in Seminole County and will keep you updated as we learn more!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.