For the second year in a row, a record number of books were challenged in libraries and schools.
Gender Queer, Maia Kobabe’s touching graphic novel memoir about gender identity, topped the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for 2022. It’s the second year in a row that Gender Queer has landed in the No. 1 spot.
The ALA’s annual top 10 list of the most challenged books expanded to 13 for 2022, which saw a record number of 1,269 book challenges for 2,571 unique titles (many challenges include more than one book). Most of the targeted books in the top 13 were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.
“By releasing the list of Top 10 Most Challenged Books each year, ALA recognizes all of the brave authors whose work challenges readers with stories that disrupt the status quo and offer fresh perspectives on tough issues,” said ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada. “The list also illustrates how frequently stories by or about LGBTQ+ persons, people of color, and lived experiences are being targeted by censors. Closing our eyes to the reality portrayed in these stories will not make life’s challenges disappear. Books give us courage and help us understand each other.”
Kobabe will team with artist Lucky Srikumar on ‘Saachi’s Stories.’
Gender Queer creator Maia Kobabe’s next graphic novel will arrive from Scholastic in 2025, according to a report on Publisher’s Weekly. Kobabe will team with artist Lucky Srikumar for Saachi’s Stories, a middle-grade graphic novel being released through Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.
“I have sold my second book!” Kobabe said on Tumblr. “It’s called Saachi’s Stories and I wrote it with my wonderful, smart, hot, funny, talented friend @diamoric-comix! It’s due out from Scholastic Graphix in 2025. It’s fiction, and it’s aimed at a younger audience than Gender Queer but it is once again about a character wrestling with gender, identity and sexuality, this time in the crucible of junior high. I am really excited about this book, and can’t wait to share it with you in a couple more years.”
Plus: News on ‘Gender Queer,’ ‘Adora and the Distance,’ and more.
The always essential Comichron by comic sales guru John Jackson Miller has a number of charts up about 2022 comics. With distribution scattered amongst numerous players now, it’s harder to pin down sales numbers for many titles, but Miller has been keeping track of the number of new periodical releases, which gives an indication of the health of the overall comics market:
The court dismissed it based on First Amendment and due process grounds.
Circuit Court Judge Pamela Baskervill has dismissedthe case that sought to label the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and the novel A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. K. Maas as obscene and illegal to sell.
The judge found that the statute pursuant to which the petitions were filed violated the First Amendment and the constitutional right to due process. You can read the judge’s full decision here.
Jeff Trexler from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund served as Kobabe’s co-counsel and offered more details on the decision in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“Normally an obscenity statute works the way you’d expect a criminal statute to work: a person produces, possesses, distributes, etc. certain material, gets arrested on obscenity charges, gets convicted or found not guilty,” he posted. “Virginia Code § 18.2-384 is different. It provides that a citizen or attorney of any VA county/city in which sale or commercial distribution of a book occurs can initiate a proceeding to have the book declared obscene. When that happens, the judge can issue an order to show cause that the book is not obscene & can also issue a temporary restraining order against the sale or distribution of the book!”
Here are three things to buy, to watch and to listen to today.
Three Things spotlights, as the title states, three things from comics today. It’ll be three things with links, no more, no less. This is the fourth one in the series, collect them all.
1. To buy: Tongue #5, the yearly series by Anders Nilsen
Anders Nilsen, the award-winning creator of Big Questions and Rage of Poseidon, has released the fifth issue of Tongues, his self-published comic that features Prometheus, Teddy Roosevelt and a whole lot more. It’s … kind of hard to describe, actually, but it’s a labor of love for the creator, with emphasis on the labor.
In a post on his blog, Nilsen details how much work and time went into this fifth issue — and into every issue — and he reveals that he has about five more issues left to complete. For the process junkies, he also goes deep in how the sausage gets made…
The move comes a week after the Virginia Beach school board removed the book from library shelves.
Virginia State Delegate and lawyer is seeking a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools “to enjoin them from selling or loaning” the graphic novel Gender Queer and the novel A Court of Mist and Furyto minors without parent consent, according to Book Riot.
On his Facebook page, Tim Anderson, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, says he is seeking the restraining order on behalf of his client, Tommy Altman, who is currently running for U.S. Congress in Virginia.
“Today, the Virginia Beach Circuit Court has found probable cause that the books Gender Queer and a Court of Mist and Fury are obscene to unrestricted viewing by minors,” Anderson posted. “My client, Tommy Altman, has now directed my office to seek a restraining order against Barnes and Noble and Virginia Beach Schools to enjoin them from selling or loaning these books to minors without parent consent.”
Half the books on 2021’s top 10 list were targeted for including LGBTQIA+ content.
In a year that saw the highest number of book challenges in libraries and schools since the ALA began compiling data on the topic, the graphic novel Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe topped the American Library Association’s list of most challenged books for 2021.
More than 700 book challenges — which are reported attempts by citizens and parents to have books removed from their public library or a school library — were recorded by the ALA, a record number since they began sharing data and making this list in 2000. This resulted in almost 1,600 individual book challenges or removals, as some challenges were against multiple titles.
“The 729 challenges tracked by ALA represent the highest number of attempted book bans since we began compiling these lists 20 years ago,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “We support individual parents’ choices concerning their child’s reading and believe that parents should not have those choices dictated by others. Young people need to have access to a variety of books from which they can learn about different perspectives. So, despite this organized effort to ban books, libraries remain ready to do what we always have: make knowledge and ideas available so people are free to choose what to read.”
The first month’s box will include a copy of ‘Gender Queer,’ along with a lapel pin designed by creator Maia Kobabe.
Ariel Hakim, a librarian former library reference associate in Northeast Ohio, has put a timely spin on the subscription box idea with the Banned Books Box, which delivers banned books and graphic novels to your door each month.
And December’s selection couldn’t come at a better time; it’ll feature GenderQueer by Maia Kobabe, a graphic novel that has been making headlines recently in Virginia, Michigan and Florida as school districts face a barrage of criticism from overzealous parents for including it on their library shelves. (Kobabe recently responded to critics in a write-up published by the Washington Post).
“Maia wrote this graphic novel that parents of high schoolers have found in the school library and been completely vocal about how offended they are by some of the images,” Hakim told Cleveland Scene. “Maia wrote it to explain to family members about what non-binary means. Maia came out as queer and then several years as non-binary. When I decided that this was the book I wanted to use, I emailed the agent to see about getting signed books, and we got some book plates, and then Maia designed an enamel pin that will be one of the pieces of the book box. I like the book a lot, and I think it’s entertaining and educational. I love memoirs. Just reading anyone else’s story written in a sincere way is something I will always enjoy.”
Plus: More book challenges, creator interviews, and recommended reading.
In a thoughtful op-ed in the Washington Post, Maia Kobabe responds to critics who have challenged her book Gender Queer in school libraries. She writes that when she was growing up, she turned to books to help her understand something she couldn’t put into words, and that she wrote Gender Queer primarily for her own family, who were supportive but also puzzled. And she ends with this:
Three weeks after I first heard about the “Gender Queer” ban at Fairfax County Public Schools,I received this message:
“You probably won’t ever see this but I am a queer FCPS student! My mom and I read your book. I loved it! I related to almost everything you said. I felt so understood and not alone. I think my mom understands me better and I’m more confident in confiding in her since she read your book. Thank you so much for creating your memoir!”
Plus: Tanzanian cartoonist arrested, NYCC manga news, and more!
Gender Queer Challenged and Defended: The Brevard, Florida, Public Schools have removed a book from the Melbourne High School public library because it contained “adult images that have no place in education.” While they did not name the book, Florida Today speculates that it was Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, which was the subject of a recent discussion on a local Facebook page. Superintendent Mike Mullins said that “BPS staff immediately agreed that this book violates our guidelines and that it has no place in our school district,” and he added that he has instructed the staff to check that there are no other such books in the school libraries. Gender Queer was also removed from the Fairfax, Virginia, public school libraries, but local station WTOP reports that students have pushed back: Over 400 students from across the district have signed a letter protesting the removal of the book. And in Williamstown, Michigan, parents are objecting to their children getting library cards because the book is in the local public library, according to the Lansing CityPulse.
It’s almost TOO on the nose that three book challenges involving graphic novels came up during Banned Books Week, but that’s exactly what has happened.
Katy, Texas: The Katy school board has canceled a virtual appearance by Jerry Craft, after an online petition claimed that his middle-grade graphic novels New Kid and Class Act promote Critical Race Theory. TV news station Click2Houston has a good overview of what happened: After a parent complained, the school district put the Zoom visit on hold and pulled the books from the library for review, per their policy; they will review the books within 15 days and are trying to reschedule the visit outside of the instructional day. Kara Yorio at School Library Journal has more details on the backstory: The petition (since removed) urged the school board to cancel Craft’s appearance, claiming that “these books … are wrought with critical race theory in the form of teaching children that their white privilege inherently comes with microaggressions which must be kept in check.” New Kid has won numerous awards and was the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal; both books are best-sellers.
Several graphic novels were honored at the American Library Association’s annual Youth Media Awards.
The American Library Association recognized several graphic novels this past weekend as part of the 2020 Youth Media Awards at their Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. These included the prestigious Newbery Medal, which has been given out since 1922 to “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children;” the Coretta Scott King Book Award; and many others.
The winner of this year’s Newbery Medal was New Kid, the graphic novel by Jerry Craft that was published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. It also won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award. It’s interesting to note that these aren’t in a “graphic novel” category or anything like that; The Newbery Medal is the highest honor the ALA gives out every year, and this is the first time a graphic novel has won it outright.