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February 19, 2007

Youth Literature is Filled with Scrotums

Susan Patron won the Newberry Medal—the highest honor in children's literature—for her new book The Higher Power of Lucky. According to the New York Times, though, Patron's use of the word "scrotum" on the first page of Lucky has aroused the ire of children's librarians the country over. Never mind that Patron is only describing where a rattlesnake bit a dog (ouch!)—elementary-school bookkeepers don't want to have that word in their libraries. (Patron's explanation in the Times—"The word is just so delicious"—probably doesn't endear her any further to the pro-censorship crowd.) But if we're going to ban Lucky, here are a few other scrotalicious books for tweens and below that must go:

All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot

"…as soon as the major touched the scrotum with his antiseptic, the colt reared and brought a forefoot crashing down on Kenny's head."

Fool's Puzzle, by Earlene Fowler

"You take this thing called an elastrator and fit them around the scrotum of the calf. Then when both testicles are through the rubber rings, you release the pressure and the ring constricts."

Folktales of India, compiled by Brenda Beck

"The scrotum of this man swaying back and forth made the crab think of a sumptuous meal. So the crab crept up to the man silently and grabbed his scrotum from behind."

Horse Thief, by Robert Newton Peck

"Judah actual convinced a city slicker that a dried, hollowed-out bull scrotum was a genuine Seminole water canteen."

Bless The Beasts And Children, by Glendon Swarthout

"A distinctive coin purse, it was learned, could be fashioned from the scrotum of a bull."

Alice in April, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

"That night, I asked Dad what Lester meant by, 'Some day the other one will drop.'
'Probably refers to the testicles, Al,' he said. 'Sometimes boys are born with a testicle up in the groin instead of down in the scrotum.' "

Your Puppy, Your Dog, by Pat Storer

"To neuter a male, the veterinarian surgically removes both of the testicles. If they have both descended into the scrotum it will be a relatively simple procedure."

Le Morte D'Avalon, by J. Robert King

"Roena pulled the child to her belly and wiped him. It was a boy, the scrotum swollen and purple beneath the kinked umbilicus."

Bro, by Robert Newton Peck

"With her gloves off, Aunt Lulu lifted the other hinder to slit the scrotum. She yanked out both balls, and then allowed the bawling bully (now a steer) to jump up free and bleed clean."

Book Of Dinosaurs, by Andrews McMeel Publishing and Tim Gardom

"Described by Robert Plot in 1676 as belonging to a giant human, this is the knee end of a thigh bone of Megalosaurus. It was later named, in 1763, by R. Brookes as Scrotum humanum, the genitals of a giant man."
Seriously, you have to check out this illustration.

The Storm Testament, by Lee Nelson

"He called the stuff castoreum, which he had extracted from the scrotums of male beavers he had trapped."
Perhaps not unrelatedly, the villain of this tail is the mobster Dick Boggs.

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- Arts
- posted on Feb 19, 07
James Morrison

Sheer brilliance!

- Arts
- posted on Feb 19, 07

Great List, but you could have stopped with the "bookkeeper" slam. Some of us are proud of the work we do in elementary libraries connecting students to resources, technology & learning. I didn't need the insult while I'm out there protecting intellectual freedoms. Not everyone librarian objected nor deserved your derision.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07
David Goldenberg

Hi Diane,
I'm glad you enjoyed the list. Sorry for grouping you and your pro-intellectual freedom colleagues in with other less enlightened librarians. Keep up the good work!

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07
Thierry Wasserman

How the fuck did she get that list. Loved it.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07

Car seats for children till the age of 11 in the UK?
no scrotum knowledge for children between 9 and 12?
Why don't we just ban computers, internet, television, the press and sex education while we're on the subject.
Let's go back to the dark ages - children were much better behaved then because they didn't know what scrotums were.

Get lives people.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07

I've heard a horrible rumor that 50% of elementary school students actually HAVE scrotums!

These scrotum-having freaks shouldn't be allowed in our schools.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07

i feel the same way, michael! 50% have scrotums and 49% don't even know it! what's safe about that? do away with all of them!

- Arts
- posted on Feb 20, 07
Wicked Witch of Publishing

I guess librarians will be tossing those books into the fire as well. Sorry I wasn't smart enough to compile this list!Scrotum Debate of 2007

I just linked to you.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 21, 07

When I saw this list my first thought was Villa Incognita by Tom Robbins, in which the very first line is "It has been reported that Tanuki fell from the sky using his scrotum as a parachute."

Actually almost any literature with Tanuki myths in will do - though I noticed that the US dubbed version of Pompoko,/a> talks about them beating on their 'belly' which is less canonical but possibly also less painful...

- Arts
- posted on Feb 21, 07

It's a great list but a bit disingenuous in saying "books for tweens and below" - many of the titles were written and published for adults.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 21, 07
Greg McClay

Not all those books are for tweens and under and not all those books use the word in the same context.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 21, 07
Another librarian named Diane

The NYT article is a perfect example of why we need librarians in schools. I spend a good part of my day teaching kids how to evaluate the quality of information on the web. As a member of the listserv to which the NYT refers, I can say with certainty MOST of the librarians posting there did not feel the way the article indicates. The NYT did not do their homework.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 22, 07
Harry Kelly

One more and then I'll quit. : - )

- Arts
- posted on Feb 22, 07
Colin Night

ahah! at last! a list librarians can use to hunt down and destroy the scrotums of literature. pretty stupid to ban a book on account of one word. i can remember tons of teachers i had who would have just told me the meaning if i asked.

- Arts
- posted on Feb 22, 07

The Times has since posted another article about this issue. Comments from LM_Net were taken out of context (as a quick check of the LM_Net archives will show). What was a discussion geared toward opinion and referring to selection policy was misrepresented as censorship. (And, hey, they got to use the word "scrotum" many times!)

I think you'll find that the vast majority of school librarians are against censorship and fight it, in some cases, on a daily basis. When a school librarian is charged to select books on a very tight budget (have you priced library-binding, i.e., sturdy, non-fiction texts recently?!), and with selecting those books in often narrow confines of curricular requirements (heaven forbid we have books to read "for fun), asking fellow librarians what they think of a title isn't a bad idea. My word to the >i>Times? Check the source before crying "censorship" and don't quote out of context.

Meanwhile, love the list (painful though some of it sounded!)

- Arts
- posted on Mar 02, 07
J. Robert King

Thanks for this article!

Whether you believe in evolution--that human beings arose through natural selection--or believe in creation--that human beings arose from the hand of God--you must believe in scrotums, which resulted from one or the other of these processes.

Given that 49 percent of elementary-school students have scrotums and that 51 percent wonder about the rest, I do not understand this current controversy.

If we ban books that use the word "scrotum," let's ban books that use the word "nostril." One hundred percent of students own one or more nostrils, an exceedingly embarassing body part.

And unlike nostrils, scrotums do not produce snot.

- Arts
- posted on Mar 07, 07

I don't know if this has been mentioned and it reall isn't children's lit but Beast by Napoli has "scrotum" mentioned in the last third part of the book. Beast is attacked by bees and they sting his body including his scrotum. I would not have thought anything of it until this whole Newbery/scrotum controversy came up. Ugh.

- Arts
- posted on Nov 28, 07

Fools' gold

- Arts
- posted on Nov 29, 07

As cold as any stone

- Arts
- posted on Nov 29, 07

Forbidden fruit

- Arts
- posted on Mar 16, 09

The man bit down on the hair-covered scrotum. It tasted like cheeseburgers and malt vinegar.

- Arts
- posted on Aug 04, 10
Deb Griffin - Low Cost Electronic Teaching Aids

Maybe the tweens need to know the appropriate word and the slang terms they all seem to use.

These are not the books for younger children but maybe our tweens will be forced to look up the definition of scrotum. At least they will be learning and increasing their vocabulary with proper words not something they learned from a twitter pal!

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