Howard schools to retain 2 books despite protests


"Halloween ABC" and "Ida and the Wool Smugglers," two books that parents had asked Howard County to remove from school libraries, will remain on the shelves, a school official decided yesterday.

Joan Palmer, associate superintendent for curriculum, upheld the decisions of a review committee made up of parents, teachers, students and members of the school system's central office staff.

The committee voted 7-4 to retain "Halloween ABC," a book of poetry by Eve Merriam, and unanimously backed the picture book "Ida and the Wool Smugglers," by Sue Ann Alderson and Ann Blades.

Those who had wanted "Halloween ABC" removed maintained that "there should be an effort to tone down Halloween and there should not be books about it in the schools," said Celeste Smalkin, the county's supervisor of media services.

A parent had complained about all of "Halloween ABC's" poetry, especially poems entitled "Demon" and "Icicle." "Demon" is about spells by "diabolic demons," while "Icicle" is about a stabbing with an icicle.

The objection against "Ida and the Wool Smugglers" was that the mother in the picture book was neglectful because she sent her daughter, Ida, to the neighbors when she knew wool smugglers were in the vicinity.

However, the committee said that the book was a "historical representation of 19th-century rural Canada and it was normal for the child to take a long walk to a neighbor's house under the circumstances," Ms. Smalkin said.

The county school system has reviewed eight books this school year, the largest number of protested library books in recent years, Ms. Smalkin said. One of the eight, "Curses, Hexes and Spells," by Daniel Cohen, was removed from elementary school libraries but kept in the middle and high school libraries.

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