I Was a Teenage Fairy was written by Francesca Block. She is well known as an author of books with homosexual and other very controversial themes, actions and situations. We challenged I Was a Teenage Fairy because of language, actions and situations in it.
We requested in our challenge that members of the ALA and NEA not sit on this I Was a Teenage Fairy review committee. This was refused in the letter sent to us calling this meeting. We protest this decision. Official positions and policies of organizations are important to consider in order to achieve non-discriminatory procedures and due process. A member of the KKK, NRA or NRL would not be allowed to sit on the jury of many cases solely due to their organization’s stated and known positions about certain subjects, notwithstanding any statements about how the individuals would follow the laws or regulations. We ask that the documentation for this I Was a Teenage Fairy review committee include a notation as to who are members of the ALA or NEA.
We initiated this countywide challenge in Poe MS, a middle school with 6th grade. Children start 6th grade at 11-years old. At the time of our challenge, this book was also in another middle school with 6th grade. The review of I Was a Teenage Fairy in the FCPS library catalog system specifically notes it is for grade 9 and up. To use this book from 6 - 8th grade contradicts this catalog information and is inappropriate.
At a December 9, 2002 meeting at Poe MS, with Principal Monterio and Librarian Lisa Muir, we were told that this was a “choice” book and that “students have free choice.” FCPS Regulation 6760, which they provided us as their library collection policy, does not contain the word “choice.” Librarian Muir said the book reflects “child abuse” and “some 8th graders study this and do reports.” When asked what class this was part of, she backtracked and said that, “They like to read about this.”
Librarian Muir said this book was selected because of reviews in Kirkus and Booklist, however these two review sources (which they did not provide us) say 8th grade and 13 years old, not 6th and 7th grade, and not 11 and 12 years old. Librarian Muir said she would not let an 11-year old check out this book without a note from their parents, and said she would “caution” a 7th grader on checking out this book. She said she had “skimmed” the book and did not catch the homosexual parts - that “the front only talks about child abuse.”
Some excerpts from this book indicative of the language, actions and situations in it are as follows:
- From Page 1, 1st sentence: "If Los Angeles is a woman.. with.. silicone-inflated breasts.."
- “Maybe Mab was the fury. Maybe she was the courage. Maybe later on she was the sex.”
- “Her mother had taken her to the beauty parlor for a ‘makeover’.. and her father was angry. ..She looks like a child prostitute.."
- “Mab flew over to the doll..... Her titties are weird-looking.... [My mom] named me after her [Barbie]. She wishes I looked like this. ...stopped and looked down at her flat chest... if she did look like her , maybe her mother would be happier. Maybe she’d win the pageant and her father would be proud and come back to them.”
- “S. appeared the next day in an ad where she wore lipstick. She looked 10 yrs older than she was. Pedophilic feelings were aroused in non-pedophiles...had more and more operations...shrink her nose...increase the size of her breasts until they seemed to be toppling off the billboards on which she lay. ...When the little girl who looked a lot like she had once looked was found murdered, she collected tabloids and papered her ...walls with the face of a tiny dead beauty queen... thought she heard a child’s sobs dripping out of the faucet.”
- “Suddenly Mab understood [that B, 11 years old, had been molested by her photographer]. She really should have known before... Big World...had no respect for its smallest and most delicate members... it would let them be touched in ways that no one should be touched, and broken... tossed in trash.”
- “M. always wanted too hear how B. had had some hot sex, and there was never anything to tell.”
- “When the man stopped, she hesitated. Usually she tried to hitch only with women. ...as soon as she got in, he was taking bites out of her with his eyes. ...staring at her chest as if her breasts were exposed... be disappointed if he saw how small they are... something nauseating about the man’s tone. Like he would get off later on some vision of her and Boyfriend having sex.”
- “A Giant, but a very beautiful one - a hermaphrodite belly dancer... androgynous looking boy.. stared at her... fountain was spurting jets of red-blood wine. People were filling their glasses or... sucking it straight into their mouths."
- "You might have been cuter when we were little, but your tits never lived up to your namesake. Fuck off, bitch.”
- “...could have thought he had to give it to her to get her to sleep with him..... probably figured he could just smile the right way and offer her another glass of wine... mother kept her so sheltered. But she knew boys had her picture up over their beds to look at when they jerked off.”
- “..he is a babe...bet he’s a biscuit (boy)-lover....I don’t think so. Androgyny’s trendy.”
- “[your father] was probably turned on by you on some level and couldn’t handle the Oedipal, or rather, Electric, repercussions. Gross! I am so sick of your sex-based theories. And it’s Electra, not Electric.”
- “Well, he [Ken doll] is much better than those females. But not much. Look at that crotch! B. laughed ..For something so little, M. had the sex drive of a family of large rabbits. I might have been like that, too, she thought if things had been different. I once knew someone who should have a crotch like that. So he couldn’t do any more damage. ...Maybe I let that man do those things to me because my father never gave me enough attention”
- “..I’m built like Tweetie too, she thought, pushing up her small breasts with her hands. ..if anyone could give her back her desire, it was T.”
- “I hope I’m doing shit like this when I’m a fogey.”
- “T. brought out a bottle of ..wine and they joined (G.) on the carpet.... he was staring... and smoking a joint...... B... took a big hit of the joint and handed it to G... he took a hit, handed it back. [G. went to bed]... being alone with T. felt even stranger...wished she could tell him... would ease the fear in her. If he knew what had happened it might make him go more slowly.”
- “The world can treat you like shit...”
- “It wasn’t that G. wasn’t in love with T. ... But G. hadn’t gotten beyond the dark feelings he had for T. Not love feelings he told himself again. He just had a crush like everyone else did, even ....straight guys... He reached under the covers and touched his groin. Maybe if he came he wouldn’t need to cry. But sex, especially sex like this alone and hot more from shame than desire [would only] make his sheets wet and his wrists ache.... G. gave up... Fucking mosquitoes!.. heard the strangest thing... What the fuck? ...hadn’t thought he was that high. Shit, T., what did you put in that pot... [it was M. the nympho fairy] ...if your real.. prove it...[go fly with me] .. what the fuck, he said.... "
- Barbie and T. have sex
- T’s girlfriend comes to house in morning. “You slut. You’ve always taken what belongs to me! ... Fuck you! Did you get her name tattooed on your chest yet?”
- “Fuck! What did I do?”
- “I really fucked up....What’s up with you man? I think you need to get laid or something. .... Fuck you”
- “Not even realizing what she was doing she dragged her knuckles against a brick wall until they were flecked with blood. Ever since she was 11 she would surprise herself with bleeding.."
- “[mom says] where have you been all night?... [mom] struggled to fasten her bathing-suit top, remembering...when there was a man around to do [it]”
- “A life sized Ken and Barbie.. stood on top of a ... cake (on) the night club dance floor.... Barbie and Ken turned to each other and kissed, then began to rip off each other’s clothes... bestowed with the proper equipment to consummate their relationship”
- “A.. man dressed as the Magic-Earring Ken approached G... haven’t I seen you in that jeans ad? ..want to dance?.. [fairy M. bites G.] Ow! Fuck! .. Something bit me. Ken grinned and licked his lips. ‘Sounds exciting’. ...Held up the plastic necklace he was wearing. It was around ring on a cord. Can you believe they actually got away with making a kid’s doll like this?.. They thought it was a new wave necklace...Yeah G. said. M. felt bad that she’d bitten him.. wished she’d gotten Ken instead, even if she’d have to spit him out rather than enjoy the delectable taste of her favorite biscuit. You know what it really is...K. smirked.. M. who’d once made B. buy her some porno magazines.. recognized the ring and realized what K. wanted to put in it.”
- "A croc of shit!"
- “ ..no longer passes joints back and forth out of her car window while speeding down the highway, almost causing a collision with the truckful of pothead surfers... makes ... “mouth condoms” out of her bubble gum, encasing her tongue in the thin plasticky sheath.”
- “I need to know, she said... Why are you asking me?.. Because I saw your face when you saw him. ...I don’t want to talk about it... But we have to talk. He might be still doing it... If I had told someone when it happened to me it might have made him stop. He might do it to that little boy today. G. picked up his bong. ..Remembering. It would fuck him up... G. took a swig from the bottle of J.D. He lit the bong and had a hit. ....ghosts kept spinning around inside of him, no matter how much alcohol or smoke...”
- “Everyone I’ve ever trusted has fucked with me. Or left. ..... Everyone I’ve ever really trusted has fucked with me.”
- “..still clammy with fear as he stood at the window [ready to commit suicide by jumping]. You’re a fucking coward.. afraid, because you think that if you tell what he did they’ll all know about you. ....maybe it was your fault he did what he did. Maybe you encouraged him to do it because you like men. ...hey, little chick thing with the wings...I’m a freakin fairy too. ... hoisted himself up onto the window ledge ..body swaying.. ghosts stoned now on J.D and pot were whispering....”
- M. [the fairy] plays matchmaker for G. “She had spotted D.... as he was leaving the night club where he worked as a go-go boy... had a good relationship with his parents to whom he had come out.. [their letter] asking if he’d met any nice boys yet .. mostly forgotten about the thing that happened when he was 8... still dreamed about it though - the way they held him down and took turns with him, calling him a faggot - and when a boyfriend touched him in a certain way, he’d get paralyzed with fear for no apparent reason.”
- B. confronts Mom asking why she let pedophile photographer molest her. “[mom says] what could I have done? We had our career to think about.”
- "The next morning B woke in T's arms.. slipped out of bed and into one of [his] T-shirts.. the memory of T's love in her body.. didn't make [her knowing the photographer was going to molest another young boy] better."
- “H. had never meant to hurt [any of the children]. At first it was ok... could just look at them through the camera and not need anymore... the longing began... wanted to know what was inside of them, too; not just take in their beauty.... longing began to tear at him... things happened before he could stop himself... he would have to threaten them so they wouldn’t tell. He didn’t want them to be afraid... The eyes looked up at him... when the trust would turn to confusion and then fear. ..put his hand on the boy’s leg... how fragile they felt, like you could break it in 2 and make a wish. ..remembered how he once had ....a shadowy-winged creature to whom he told what his stepfather had done to him.”
- “T.’s body inside of hers... rhythms were transporting her... orgasmic hallucination from the lovemaking.... M. flipped the sign over. Sorry to bother you in mid-biscuit-bake session,..”
Homosexuality is only presented in a 100% positive and approving way in I Was a Teenage Fairy. In FCPS middle schools questions about homosexuality may only be answered in the context of HIV disease prevention education. For FLE class parents are sent an opt-out form. To have materials related to the topic of homosexuality outside of FLE, such as I Was a Teenage Fairy, in the school library, where children are sent when they opt-out of FLE, is contradictory.
It is important to us to know what homosexual themes and situations, if any, are allowed in ES and MS books by FCPS. Recently we have heard the school system has been communicating with outside groups who want to donate homosexual themed books. This and the recent proposed language change to “sexual orientation” made us realize that while I Was a Teenage Fairy is now in some middle schools, it could very easily be in every ES and MS if it is determined to be acceptable at those age levels. This committee will obviously do what it wants to do. In numerous past challenges that almost always has been a 100% vote against the challenger. We ask that you consider that it is possible that FCPS has made a mistake on this book.
In July of this year the FCPS provided the school board a list of book titles dealing with homosexuality, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, gay rights, gender identity, sexual orientation, coming out and related topics. I Was a Teenage Fairy was not on this list even though it has homosexual subject material and is even in middle school. The FCPS catalog system did not use any of these keywords as subject terms for I Was a Teenage Fairy despite the fact that this book and many other books by the same author show up on gay reading lists.
We don’t feel that the material in I Was a Teenage Fairy is necessary or appropriate for MS. This book is not great literature or classic literature. It is not time-tested literature - it was just copyrighted in 1998.
There was a choice - a choice to purchase this book with tax dollars and place it in a few MS libraries. Almost all middle schools chose not to have this book. Why did a few schools choose differently? What makes them different? Our challenge to I Was a Teenage Fairy requested that the names of the people who made the choice to be identified. We, and the public have a right to know who is making these choices with our tax dollars for us.
The cover of this book, with a blue elfish looking fairy, and the title make this book one likely to catch the eye of a young reader, but the language, action and situations in this book are clearly very controversial. Instead of a fairy tale, the 11-13 year old reader gets homosexuality, pedophilia, masturbation, drug use and foul language.
The main focus of I Was a Teenage Fairy is on pedophile molestation. The main character is sexually molested by a photographer [she is a child model] when she is 11-years old. Her mom knew it was happening but did not do anything. She tells the girl when she was 16-years old, “..what could I have done? We had our career to think about.” The girl meets a boy model who also was sexually molested by the same photographer. The boy thinks it was perhaps his fault because he likes men. The “fairy” later plays matchmaker for this boy and gets him a boyfriend who was sexually molested at 8-years old by multiple people [“..they held him down and took turns with him..”]. We learn that the photographer has molested many children. The girl takes a picture of the photographer sexually molesting a boy. We learn that the photographer was also sexually abused as a boy, by his stepfather. We learn that the girl’s mother was also sexually molested as a child.
This book has controversial language from beginning to end. Language and phrases in this book include: shit, fuck, fucked, fucking, bitch, ‘mouth condoms’, faggot, porno magazines, pedophile, hermaphrodite, androgynous, pot, joint, bong, Jack Daniels, tits, titties, silicone-inflated breasts, child prostitute, jerking off, coming out, orgasmic, pedophilic feelings aroused in non-pedophiles, hot sex, sheets wet and his wrists ache, slut, getting laid, if he came he wouldn’t need to cry, and a ring on a cord sex toy. If books with language like this are going to be made available to 11-13 year old children, parents and the public have a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this, and spend their taxes on it.
If books with content involving masturbation, homosexuality, drug use, and constant sexual situations are going to be made available to 11-13 year old children, parents and the public have a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this, and spend their taxes on it.
If books with the main focus being pedophile molestation are going to be made available to 11-13 year old children, parents and the public have a right to know that FCPS and their elected officials support this, and spend their taxes on it.
As stated in our challenge State Law says the entire scheme of instruction in the public schools shall emphasize moral education through lessons given by teachers and imparted by appropriate reading selections. We think the material in I Was a Teenage Fairy violates this.
We don’t know what parents, if any, were involved in choosing this book for middle school. We don’t know who chose it and why. Parents don’t have a choice if this book is in their child’s school library. The book is available to their child, like every other book in the library, when their children are there.
There are many books that were not chosen for some or any FCPS libraries. The only choice that happened so far is that FCPS has made a choice to place this book in some MS libraries. We don’t think that was a good choice.
If I Was a Teenage Fairy is not available to MS students it will still be available to them and their parents in public bookstores and the public library - the same as the millions of other books not “chosen” for use in our schools.
27 February 2003