Library book allegedly tossed to protect children, but they got the wrong book
July 19, 2022
The "Lawn Boy" they intended to toss is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel by Jonathan Evison published in 2018 by Algonquin Books. It tells the story of Mike Muñoz, a young adult Mexican American who has faced hardship ever since his childhood and is now going through a phase of self-discovery.
The Boundary County Library does not and has never had that book on its shelves, though it is highly regarded.
The book received a good review by the Library Journal, which wrote, "Evison combines humor, honesty, and anger with an insightful commentary on class that's also an effective coming-of-age novel." Writing for the School Library Journal, Mark Flowers called it "readable and deeply thought-provoking."
Lawn Boy was one of American Library Association's Alex Awards recipients in 2019, "for the ten best adult books that appeal to teen audiences."
But some find it inappropriate.
According to Wikipedia, on September 9, 2021, during a board meeting of the Leander Independent School District in Texas, the mother of a student raised concerns about the content present in Lawn Boy, saying "the book was full of obscenity and sexual content". Three people filed reports with the local police after the meeting. A spokesperson for the school district said the book was not present in any curriculum, but was available in some classroom libraries for checkout.
Later in the month, on a meeting of the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, two other speakers, spurred by the Texas challenge, denounced Evison's book, alongside Maia Kobabe's "Gender Queer: A Memoir," "for sexually explicit language, scenes and imagery including what one speaker called 'homoerotic' content." In response, officials said the books would be removed from libraries and two committees would be created to assess if the books are appropriate for high school students. According to The Washington Post, several members of the Fairfax board received messages promising physical violence or even death over their perceived support of the books.
Some of the passages in the book were considered to be depictions of pedophilia by the parents who spoke at the meetings in both Texas and Virginia. Evison, responding to the allegations, explained that the scene in the book "involves an adult man recalling a sexual encounter he had with another fourth-grader when he was in fourth grade."
According to the author of the book, after news began spreading about the challenge at the Texas school district, he started to receive death threats.
But the Boundary County copy of "Lawn Boy" was not written by Evison. It was written by Gary Paulsen and published in 2007, a funny "Horatio Alger story for the hedge fund era. "
Horatio Alger Jr. was an American author who wrote young adult novels about impoverished boys and their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of middle-class security and comfort through good works.
"One day I was 12 years old and broke," Paulsen's book starts out. "Then Grandma gave me Grandpa's old riding lawnmower. I set out to mow some lawns. More people wanted me to mow their lawns. And more and more."
The "Lawn Boy" that once graced the Boundary County Library shelves (it has been checked out) is about a 12-year-old Minnesota boy who in the course of one summer earns half a million dollars without really doing much, thanks to Grandma's kind gift.
A complaint has been filed and Bonners Ferry Police are investigating. If done with intent, police told library officials, it could be considered burglary, a felony, rather than petit theft.
Mike Weland, Publisher
6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
A 9B Media LLC publication
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