On May 8, brilliant author and illustrator Maurice Sendak died. Sendak wrote In the Night Kitchen, one of the most frequently challenged books
of the past 30 years due to a drawing featuring a nude boy. (It also has been defaced many times by
librarians and others who drew shorts or diapers on Mikey, the book’s protagonist.) His Some
Swell Pup was challenged at the Multnomah, OR, County Library because in it
a dog urinates on people, and children abuse animals.
A side note: Sendak’s inimitable Where
the Wild Things Are was a key part of one of FTRF’s more interesting cases
of the past decade. Not because of a censorship challenge, however ... well,
not an actual censorship
2003, FTRF partnered with the Association of American Publishers and thirteen
other groups in submitting an amicus
brief to the Texas Supreme Court in support of a newspaper’s right to engage in
political satire as a means of commenting on government officials’
actions. In the case, a judge and district attorney claimed they were
libeled by the Dallas Observer, after the paper (an alternative weekly)
published a fictitious article criticizing the officials’ role in jailing a
13-year-old boy for writing a school-assigned essay for Halloween, which
discussed the shooting of a teacher and two students. The article
recounted the jailing of a six-year-old girl for "suspicion of making a
terrorist threat” in a book report on Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
On September 3,
2005, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Observer,
saying the article was satire and protected by the First Amendment, and thus
the officials could not sue for libel.
The case was New Times, Inc. v.