Books are often banned for their contents, but how many have been banned for their covers? Seems that’s the problem author Bonnie J. Doerr is facing.
The cover in question is on Island Sting (Leap Books, January 2010). Doerr, a former Science teacher, planned her fast-paced eco-mystery series for classroom use. Each book in the series features a different endangered animal and is accompanied by lesson plans for use across the curriculum. Doerr, who won a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) grant for her first book to be used in environmental education, did in-depth, on-location research for each book, and many educators have praised the book’s content.
But will her new, edgy cover mean that rather than supplementing the science curriculum, the book will be banned by schools?
If some teachers have their way, it will.
The teachers’ objections? Bullet holes and blood. Some cited school shootings and violence as a reason for not wanting this book in the classroom.
No author wants a reputation for promoting violence. But what if the book in question is about violence? In this case, a poacher is killing the endangered Key deer. The background of the cover is designed to resemble the Caution: Endangered Animal Area signs found in Key West, Florida, the book’s location. The bullet holes suggest the danger as do the swerving tire tracks and fleeing deer tracks.
So the cover seems appropriate for the subject matter. And Leap Books queried teens about the cover and found it particularly attracted the interest of teens who indicated that they rarely read. Here's hoping teachers recant and select the book for its content. They might be pleasantly surprised to find reluctant readers snatching up the book. And isn't that every teacher's goal--to get students to read more?