If you’re not “in the know”, Bone is an “all ages” graphic novel which tells the story of the three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who after being outcast from their home of Boneville embark on an epic adventure where they encounter a myriad of people and creatures as they find themselves unlikely heroes who attempt to save the world from a race of evil rat creatures and their master, the Lord of Locusts.
The true brilliance of Bone is that it tells a story complex and engaging enough for adults while still remaining completely accessible to grade school age children. The internet is full of parents and kids alike praising the merits of Bone and crediting Jeff Smith with sparking their love of reading. Personally, I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to be introduced this classic.
So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that this series of books, which has introduced countless kids to the joy of reading, was named among the top ten most banned books of 2013.
So, in honor of Banned Books Week, I thought I would take a few minutes to defend, and endorse, what is, in my opinion, a masterpiece of modern storytelling. This is especially fitting since BBW is focusing on the graphic novels this year.
The chief complaints from parents who have challenged the series is that it ”promotes drinking, smoking, and gambling” and because of “political viewpoint, racism, violence and horror”.
Yes, some of the characters in Bone do drink, smoke and gamble. But it should be noted that the characters who do indulge in these vices are typically depicted as being buffoonish and are in not intended to be “role models”.
The accusations of “political viewpoint” and “racism” are laughable. There are a variety of different creatures in the world of Bone that the cousins encounter along their journey. And Smith does indeed touch on the ways that these races coexists within that world, but he does so in a thoughtful and respectful way that mirrors the reality of our own society.
As far as "violence and horror' goes, there is nothing in Bone beyond the level of what you would find in any Disney movie. The rat creatures are kinda creepy though...
Books can and should inspire discussions about controversial issues because in case you haven’t noticed, the world is full of them.
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. For more info check out http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/.
For information on Jeff Smith and his work go to http://www.boneville.com/.