Keeping the Books Coming


Z came to me last night and said, “Mom, that book is weird.” He’s smiling, I thought. This can’t be good. I chided myself for not previewing the book, but then I reminded myself that in the past I have acted as if I were a progressive who is against censorship. Am I? Anyway, the book in question is You Don’t Know Me (2002) by David Klass. I’ve always wanted to read it since I got the advanced copy from NCTE a few years ago but never got around to it. I picked it up last week when Z came to me and said, “Mom, I’m done with Happyface (2010); now what do I read?”

At NCTE I bought an autographed copy (I thought the autograph would entice Z to read it, but it didn’t.) of Walter Dean Myer’s Riot (2009) so I suggested it.

“Naaaa,” he said articulately.

“What about that black western picture book I picked up from VATE last month?” I asked.  Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshall by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson about this bad US Marshall, probably the first black US Marshall, that everybody was scared of. He was so fierce he arrested his own son. R. Gregory Christie, the illustrator, was so nice. He let me ask dozens of questions about the business of children’s literature. Z did not want to read it. I opened You Don’t Know Me  because I knew it began dramatically. It’s in first person, and the guy lists all of the things his parents think they know about him but don’t.

Nothing gets my boy reading like the hint of inappropriate material.

He nearly grabbed the book out of my hand. Last night he ended up describing the scene where the boy is innocently (according to Z) sitting down with his girlfriend when the girl’s dad threatens his life (Dad thinks the couple isn’t so innocent.) and he has to run home. I’d better read this book so I can talk to him about its content. That’s exactly why I need to read fast.