The American Library Association has released its annual list of the “most challenged” books in schools and public libraries, a compendium of the titles that have most frequently garnered the formal complaints that librarians sit around and read to each other in their off-hours, cackling madly. For the second time since 2012, the list was topped by Dav Pilkey’s children’s book series The Adventures Of Captain Underpants, the story of two fourth-graders who use their imaginations to create a comic-book about a superhero, whose disregard for pants is as flagrant as the book’s use of language like “pee-pee, poopy, and wedgie.” Some parents have reportedly deemed the book as unsuitable for its intended age group of ages 7 to 10, fearing they are far too young for a frank, mature discussion of pee-pee and poopy. Why, many of them didn’t discuss pee-pee until they were married.
By way of comparison, the runners-up on the list were Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, which have been criticized, respectively, for their depictions of violence and racism—the pee-pee and poopy of the soul. (As noted by the ALA’s Barbara Jones, these works are routinely criticized for the very subject matter they were crafted to address, a nuance that often escapes the people who get angry at books.) And all the way down in fourth place is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey, a novel that at least has the decorum to keep its underpants off entirely, and the poopy similarly where it belongs: on anal beads.
Oddly, Fifty Shades was also singled out as being “unsuited to age group”—presumably by clever adults cheekily implying that its prose is a better fit for slow children. Its low placement is also indicative of the fact that any of its offended readers would have been required to put their complaints into writing.