"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Review: Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher

 2011 Banned Books Week: Day 5---Banned Book Review

What better to read during Banned Books Week than a Chris Crutcher book? Chris Crutcher is a YA author whose books are frequently banned/challenged.  His books are poignant and smart yet they obviously hit a note of discord with parents and adults because they don't mince words and they tackle tough subjects that don't always fit in to polite little boxes. His books are so hard-hitting that they often find the censors flame. A poster announcing a Chris Crutcher event earlier this week has this tagline: Censored. Challenged. Controversial. Award-winning.  Crutcher's website has a whole page dedicated to censorship of his books. Check it out.

Here is a list of some of the reasons that Athletic Shorts has been banned or challenged in the past:
  • homosexuality, language, disrespect for parents (1999)
  • Challenger found the book objectionable and demanded it be removed from the library and from a list of required reading. {It was.} (2000)
  • "If you do keep this book based on First Amendment rights, then you cannot discipline students for foul language, hair color, clothing, etc, as that is infringing on their rights to free speech." (2003)
  • "The material directly contradicts and undermines the beliefs and teachings of our faith." (2004)
  •  "Trash. It’s terrible." (2005)
  • Teacher accused of saying "homosexuality is good.” (2005)
  • “I do not want to have to explain to my [6-year-old] daughter what it means to be questioning one’s sexuality …" (2006)                                                                           -From Chris Crutcher's Page
With those little poison darts in mind let me tell you about the book. Athletic Shorts is a collection of six short stories where Crutcher reunites the readers with characters from previous books. Unfortunately for me, I haven't read any of those books, yet, but that didn't keep me from being profoundly touched by each of them. Every story just about screamed "I'm controversial" with topics covering weight problems, homosexuality, AIDS, racism, bigotry, forgiveness, death. Wow.  Where else does one find a collection of short stories that guarantees to offend and yet also teach, touch, and cause the reader to stop and think?

My favorite story of the collection, "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune", the story of an overweight teenager whose parents are gay. He is voted in as Senior Ball King which means he will have to dance with Senior Ball Queen, Melissa LeFevre. He just wants to dance the dance without embarrassing himself. I think this is a theme that most teenagers can relate to...just wanting to get by without embarrassment.

Please join me in reading all of Chris Crutcher's books.  This challenge has no time-limit. The Chris Crutcher Challenge.


  1. I am really enjoying Crutcher's novels and have this one on my list!

  2. Interesting. I'd never heard of this author before.

    As for the reasons it was banned, what parents would allow a 6-year old to read a YA books anyway???



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