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Library Flags Book As Potentially ‘Sexually Explicit’ Due To… Author’s Last Name

An award-winning Canadian author’s last name recently led an Alabama library system to flag her children’s book as potentially “sexually explicit.”

The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library system added Marie-Louise Gay’s 2013 picture book “Read Me a Story, Stella” to a list of 200-plus books to review and possibly move out of the children’s section, Al.com reported.

The book centers on a girl named Stella and her little brother Sam who read together in a “whimsical, humorous story” that creates “a world where reading enriches the beauty and natural wonders of a magical day,” according to Gay’s website.

Kirsten Brassard, a publicist for Gay at Groundwood Books, told Al.com that the book had never been “mistakenly censored.”

“Although it is obviously laughable that our picture book shows up on their list of censored books simply because the author’s last name is Gay, the ridiculousness of that fact should not detract from the seriousness of the situation,” Brassard said in a statement.

Brassard noted that the library system’s list also includes Angie Thomas’ young adult novel “The Hate U Give.” Thomas’ book looks at a 16-year-old Black girl who sees a white police officer shoot and kill her friend.

Cindy Hewitt, executive director of the library system, told Al.com that Gay’s book shouldn’t have placed on the list and “was added because of the keyword ‘gay.’”

“Obviously, we’re not going to touch that book for any reason,” said the executive director, who also cited Thomas’ book as one that shouldn’t be axed from the young adult section.

A copy of the list shared by Al.com reveals a number of other flagged books including “Molly and the Twin Towers,” which tells the story of a girl, her gay fathers and her sister navigating life in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Another is a graphic novel for “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which is based on a franchise that includes the series “Legend of Korra” where its main character “is a bisexual woman in a lesbian relationship,” Alabama Political Reporter noted.

Al.com pointed to “internal and public criticism that the list targeted the LGBTQ community” leading the library system to bring its efforts to a stop.

Hewitt, who explained that library staffers were allowed to make decisions on moving library materials to an older age group without outside involvement, cited “miscommunication” and “confusion” toward creating the review list.

“We understand and appreciate our community, and the needs of our collection to reflect our community. We were never eliminating any book. We were just looking at it as a whole,” Hewitt said.

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