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Curious Incident Triggers Curious Reaction

The selection of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for the 2006 Galveston County (Tex.) Reads event has resulted in the mayor of a Houston exurb announcing that the board of his community library would reconsider the book’s addition to its collection. The statement by Friendswood Mayor Kimball Brizendine came January 27, five days after he issued a proclamation declaring January 31 “Galveston County Reads Day” and encouraging “all citizens, teens to seniors” to read the Mark Haddon novel.

The book was picked by the private nonprofit group Galveston County Reads, whose program was expanded from the two-year-old citywide Galveston Reads initiative for the first time this year, committee chair Karen Stanley told American Libraries. The bestselling novel is written in the voice of an autistic teen trying to prove he did not murder his neighbor’s dog.

“When issuing the proclamation, it was not incumbent upon the office of the mayor to determine its age appropriateness,” Brizendine stated. “That said, it is not my intention to endorse this readership for our younger readers.” City Council member Chris Peden went a step further, asserting to the January 28 Galveston County Daily News that while he hadn’t read Curious Incident in its entirety, he had noted that the “F” word appeared on page four and that “later in the book, the [lead character] says there is no God and there is no life after death. Clearly, these are not ideas we should promote to kids.” Peden added, “We should give [children] wings, but they should be smaller when they are young. This is too much, too soon.”

“We respect an individual’s choice to self-censor or to determine whether a particular title is appropriate for his or her child,” Stanley told AL, “but the Galveston County Reads Committee stands behind its selection of this year’s title.”

Posted February 3, 2006.