Ban It. Pan It. But Don’t Ignore It.

As we wave farewell to Banned Book Week 2014,  and move into October--the season of the most widely banned holiday of them all, HALLOWEEN,

 I’d like to share what sounds like the start of a joke: I was sitting in the Candlewick Press booth one day when 2 librarians walked up . . .

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

Not These Two--Children's Librarians! (Who Knew there was a TV Series?)

I smiled cheerily, and Vanna White-ish-ly motioned toward the picture book on display. 

“This is my newest book,” I gushed, “Isn’t it adorable!”

"Would you like to take a look at it?"

 “Feel free to take a few NO BITE pins,” I offered.

“A bookmark? Maybe a NO BITE sticker?”





The two librarians leaned in for a peek at the cover, then jumped back, shaking their heads.
No, no,” They told me.

“I’m sure it’s very nice,” one offered. “But . . . 

We don’t buy that kind of book.

The book was Vampire Baby, a picture book illustrated by Paul Meisel. The event TLA: Texas Library Association 2013 Annual Conference. 

These weren't the only librarians who hurried past and/or tisk-tisked disapprovingly at Vampire Baby. (I think a few may actually have made a special trip past the booth just so they could cast dispersion.) 

What were they afraid of? That adorable Tootie-Wootie was going to jump off the cover and bite them? That Vampirism was contagious? That children exposed to it might suddenly sprout fangs? Or maybe, horror of horrors, they might actually . . . like it???

While it sounds like a joke, it’s not a laughing matter.

Later, at the Texas Blue Bonnet Award Luncheon, after one table-mate actually squealed with delight when she learned Vampire Baby was mine!—my Rock Star Moment—I learned why Vampire Baby was shunned. That same librarian who had squealed, later apologized because while she would happily be buying copies for herself, her children, and her friends, she could not buy it for her school library. Why?

Turns out the word “Vampire” is taboo in many libraries—school and otherwise. And in school book fairs and clubs, such as Scholastic. So, rather than buying Vampire Baby, rather than reading it, rather than even looking inside, librarians at those institutions ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist. Sound familiar?

It took me back to a long ago Fourth of July Weekend when after sharing a jolly holiday with friends at a cabin they had rented on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake, we decided to book ourselves a cabin for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. The proprietress happily passed me a registration for to fill out, read as far as my name, then smiled politely as she declined my booking, saying “I’m sure you are very nice people, but you are not our kind of people.”  

Ironic, isn't it, that time of “Inclusivity” and “Celebrating Diversity” Vampire Baby, a teething story, a sibling story, a story of a brother learning to accept his sister’s “differences” and ultimately embrace and defend her, fangs and all, rather than being embraced or challenged,  is ignored.

Frankly, I don’t blame them.  If I were a children’s librarian, I’d probably do the same thing. (Although I’d like to think I wouldn't.) As delightful as Vampire Baby is—and it sooooo is—if  I knew adding it to my library’s picture book collection guaranteed me having to defend it, fill out more paperwork, perhaps pull it from the shelves anyway, I probably wouldn't buy it either. (The tots won’t know the difference. . . ) So much easier to ignore it and hope it goes away…

I wouldn’t be alone in this thinking, it seems. In a Google search of “Banned Picture Books,” the last picture book listed is And Tango Makes Three, published in 2005! 

Does this mean the last offensive to some faction picture book published was 9 years ago????

Of course you can't compare   Vampire Baby   to   And Tango Makes Three . . . 

Of course you can't compare Vampire Baby to And Tango Makes Three . . . 

 . . . Not until you've read IT!

 . . . Not until you've read IT!









Here’s to Banned Books! And Banning Books!. Being banned is so much better than being ignored.

Do me a favor: Ban it if you must. Pan it if you will. But, first, READ IT! (Or at least listen.)

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the Link to VAMPIRE BABY Author Read-Aloud

If you decide it's offensive, go ahead, BAN IT!  (I double-dog dare you...)

If you decide it’s worthwhile, and you’d like a chance to WIN FREE BOOKS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR LIBRARY, enter the I Vant My Vampire Baby Contest. HERE’S HOW!

The views expressed here are strictly mine. The do not reflect those of Candlewick Press, Paul Meisel, Scholastic Bookfairs or Vampires other than Tootie.

VAMPIRE BABY thrilled to be a finalist for the OKLAHOMA BOOK AWARD!!

VAMPIRE BABY is sharping her fangs--looking forward to sinking them into Oklahoma Center for the Book folks at the Oklahoma Book Awards on April 12th! What a thrill to be a finalist!

Thank you for honoring VAMPIRE BABY, illustrated by Paul Meisel (Candlewick Press).

2014 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist, Children/Young Adults

Vampire Baby—Kelly Bennett—Candlewick Press

The Year of the Turnip—Glenda Carlile—New Forums Press Inc.

The Dark Between—Sonia Gensler—Alfred A. Knopf

Nugget & Fang—Tammi Sauer—Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

MOJO—Tim Tharp—Alfred A. Knopf

How I Became a Ghost—Tim Tingle—The RoadRunner Press



Chikasha Stories Volume Three: Shared Wisdom—illustrated by Jeannie Barbour—Chickasaw Press

The Impossible Dream: The Miracle of the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum—designed by Nathan Dunn—Oklahoma Heritage Association

Proudly Protecting Oklahoma: The 75th Anniversary of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol—designed by Skip McKinstry—Oklahoma Heritage Association

Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison—designed by Tony Roberts and Julie Rushing—University of Oklahoma Press

Devon—designed by Jenny Chan and Lisa Yelon with Jack Design, photography by Alan Karchmer and Joe C. Aker—The Images Publishing Group



Kind of Kin—Rilla Askew—HarperCollins

A Map of Tulsa—Benjamin Lytal—Penguin Books

The Hanging of Samuel Ash—Sheldon Russell—Minotaur Books

Che Guevara’s Marijuana and Baseball Savings and Loan—Jack Shakely—Xlibris

The Southern Chapter of the Big Girl Panties Club—Lynda Stephenson—Outskirts Press

Sweet Dreams—Carla Stewart—Faith Words Press


Banking in Oklahoma Before Statehood—Michael J. Hightower—University of Oklahoma Press

Came Men on Horses: The Conquistador Expeditions of Francisco Vazquez de Coronado and Don Juan de Onate—Stan Hoig—University Press of Oklahoma

Main Street Oklahoma: Stories of Twentieth-Century America—edited by Patricia Loughlin and Linda W. Reese—University of Oklahoma Press

Riding Out the Storm: 19th Century Chickasaw Governors, Their Lives and Intellectual Legacy—Phillip Carroll Morgan—Chickasaw Press

The Fifth and Final Name: Memoir of an American Churchill—Rhonda Noonan—Chumbolly Press

Trail Sisters: Freedwomen in Indian Territory, 1850–1890—Linda W. Reese—Texas Tech University Press

When the Wolf Came: The Civil War and the Indian Territory—Mary Jane Warde—University of Arkansas Press


The White Bird—William Bernhardt—Balkan Press

Red Dirt Roads—Yvonne Carpenter, Nancy Goodwin, Catherine McCraw, Clynell Reinschmiedt, and Carol Waters—Haystack Press

Poetry Unbound—Beth Robinson and the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center Writers—CreateSpace

Black—Sarah Webb—Virtual Artists Collective

The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is a non-profit, 501-c-3 organization located in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Established in 1986 as an outreach program of the Library of Congress, the Oklahoma Center was the fourth such state center formed. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors from across the state.

The mission of the Oklahoma Center for the Book is
to promote the work of Oklahoma authors,
to promote the literary heritage of the state, and
to encourage reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.

For more information about the Oklahoma Center for the Book or the Oklahoma Book Award program, contact Connie Armstrong, 200 N.E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; or call 1-800-522-8116 toll free, statewide; in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call 522-3383.

Back to Oklahoma Book Award Page
Back to ODL Agency Services
Back to ODL Home Page