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Dear Colleagues,
        About a year ago I purchased the book It's Perfectly Normal among a
number of half price books at our state school library conference. The book
by Robie Harris with cartoon illustrations by Michael Emberly has caused a
bit of controversy due to its frank illustrations and subject matter
including puberty, birth control, masturbation, etc. Many have acted to
censor it at public libraries.  It has been sitting with a shelf of
unprocessed books that I finally found time to ready for the shelves, but I
decided to show it to the nurse, counselor, family life instructor, and
principal before putting it into circulation, something I've never felt
necessary to do before. They all agree that the book is excellent, but they
are not sure about what type of status it should have:  Reference?
Overnight? Behind the counter and circulation with permission note from
home? Professional collection? My middle school of 5th to 8th graders
includes about 60% Latinos and 4% Palestinians as well as Black, Asian, and
White students.  The principal suggested that I ask you guys how you handle
books about sex, especially those with illustrations, that discuss the
topic with frankness. I'd really appreciate your feedback on this matter.
I've had books like the Rosen series that include Coping with Sexual Abuse,
etc. without any controversy.  However, you know how some parents are.
Their kid can see Halloween 24 and other gory stuff with no interference,
but better not let them see any nudity, even cartoon style. Moreover, I'll
have to watch for kids that always seem to need to draw lewd additions on
top of such illustrations or grafitti four-letter words nearby on the pages.
                                        Sandy P. in Philly

"It's got to be the going not the gettin' there that's good." Harry Chapin
in song "Take the Greyhound"
"But then, you could go both ways!"  Scarecrow in movie "The Wizard of Oz"

Sandy Pomerantz, Librarian
Central East Middle School
236 E. Wyoming Ave.
Phila., PA 19120
(215) 456-3037

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