06 October 2012

SideScrolling Through Life

When I first read that Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers had been challenged as a title on a high school’s summer reading list for incoming freshmen, my response was:

Who in the world put SideScrollers on a summer reading list?! Bwahahahahaha!

As Loux just told the National Coalition Against Censorship:
SideScrollers was inspired by my own slackerish social life when I was a teen, hanging out with friends during the summers after high school and college. In retrospect it was a great time of very little responsibility or expectations allowing the freedom to work at a crappy job and use the money earned on snacks, toys, and video games.
In sum, SideScrollers is the absolute antithesis of the summer reading list.

This is a story about lazing around and doing nothing productive. By dint of great effort, followed by mortal necessity, the heroes manage to save a girl from date rape and stand up to bullies. But most of the time their level of motivation is half a step above the self-preservation instinct of sea slugs.

Evidently one Enfield, Connecticut, parent objected to the book’s blue language. And yes, one parent shouldn’t be able to dictate an educator’s choice of reading possibilities for an entire class, especially when the list offered plenty of other books to choose from. But I have a hard time believing that educator had actually read SideScrollers before assigning it. (Loux has become better known for his Salt Water Taffy series for younger readers.)

Assigning SideScrollers as summer reading goes against its very nature. It’s the sort of book that should be recommended with a sly sidelong whisper: “Hey, kid, are you that bored? You want some mindless fun?” And then the young folk might learn something.

Fortunately, the local TV station reported:
The book has become very popular among young readers and there is a wait at the library and local bookstores to purchase or borrow it.

However, SideScrollers will not be on next year's summer reading list, [school superintendent] Schumann said.

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