Captain Underpants receives more library complaints than Fifty Shades Of Grey

Captain Underpants receives more library complaints than Fifty Shades Of Grey

The American Library Association has released its annual list of the “most challenged” books in schools and public libraries, a compendium of the titles that have most frequently garnered the formal complaints that librarians sit around and read to each other in their off-hours, cackling madly. For the second time since 2012, the list was topped by Dav Pilkey’s children’s book series The Adventures Of Captain Underpants, the story of two fourth-graders who use their imaginations to create a comic-book about a superhero, whose disregard for pants is as flagrant as the book’s use of language like “pee-pee, poopy, and wedgie.” Some parents have reportedly deemed the book as unsuitable for its intended age group of ages 7 to 10, fearing they are far too young for a frank, mature discussion of pee-pee and poopy. Why, many of them didn’t discuss pee-pee until they were married.

By way of comparison, the runners-up on the list were Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary Of A Part-Time Indian, which have been criticized, respectively, for their depictions of violence and racism—the pee-pee and poopy of the soul. (As noted by the ALA’s Barbara Jones, these works are routinely criticized for the very subject matter they were crafted to address, a nuance that often escapes the people who get angry at books.) And all the way down in fourth place is E.L. James’ Fifty Shades Of Grey, a novel that at least has the decorum to keep its underpants off entirely, and the poopy similarly where it belongs: on anal beads.

Oddly, Fifty Shades was also singled out as being “unsuited to age group”—presumably by clever adults cheekily implying that its prose is a better fit for slow children. Its low placement is also indicative of the fact that any of its offended readers would have been required to put their complaints into writing.

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