When the publisher of a satirical book for adults parodying children’s literature recently came under attack for content considered offensive, NCAC spearheaded a statement, endorsed by other major free speech groups, defending the right to create, publish, and read the book. The author, however, decided it wasn’t worth it after receiving thousands of angry messages, and has asked the publisher not to reprint the book, which is nearly sold out.
The book in question, Bad Little Children’s Books, includes parodies of children's book covers, reminiscent of the "Golden Books" children's literature series popular in the 1940s and 50s. The book, written by pseudonymous author Arthur Gackley and published by ABRAMS books, is deliberately controversial, using book covers to poke fun at some of society’s most delicate issues. As the author explains in a statement, the work is intended to "comment on the ridiculousness of biases, stereotypes, and intolerance through the prism of questionable taste and dark humor," in the same vein as the comedy found in South Park or The Simpsons.
The book received positive reviews when published in September. However, in early December a blogger attacked the book as racist in a post that sharply criticized the author and ABRAMS. This provoked widespread criticism of the book and its publisher on Twitter and other online platforms, with critics calling for the book's removal and a boycott of the publisher. In an initial statement responding to the criticism, ABRAMS supported the decision to publish the book, underlining its parodic nature.
The statement has been endorsed by the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, Authors Guild, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America and the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, in addition to the National Coalition Against Censorship. The endorsing organizations represent a diverse constituency of readers, writers, educators, publishers, booksellers and intellectual freedom advocates, who promote availability to the public of a wide variety of books and opinions.
The statement can be read in full below. See also the Association of American Publisher’s blog about the statement, here.
In his statement, the author has asked ABRAMS not to print another edition of the book, because it has been so widely misunderstood and misconstrued. In a second statement, ABRAMS, while affirming its support for the book and its commitment to freedom of speech and artistic expression, said it will respect the author's request.
Read the full letter below; click here for a full screen view.